As the election season draws towards a close, we take a look at the votes lost due to engagement in academics and end semester exams.
Shoonya is a young 20-year-old pursuing her Bachelor’s in Economics hons. from a college in Delhi University. Shoonya is politically opinionated and keeps an eye on every new political development that happens nowadays, owing to an environment stimulated by the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. She is predetermined to use her voting rights in order to impact the elections. But Shoonya comes from Varanasi, which will go for polls on May 19. Unfortunately, she has a core paper a day later, which she can’t afford to miss. Shoonya inadvertently has to sacrifice his vote for exams.
Thousands on eligible young voters have to let their precious votes go in vain owing to a bigger priority. This overlapping acts as a predicament to the spirit of our democracy. A huge chunk of votes, not only from the University of Delhi but from all other higher education institutions get lost every time elections and exams coincide.
The 17th Lok Sabha elections started on April 11 and will end on May 23 in 7 phases all across the country. Most of the students currently in their under-graduation years will be eligible for voting in the 17th Lok Sabha Elections. These first-time voters constitute 1.66% of the total voters registered for 2019 Lok Sabha. Out of the 900 million voters, 15 million falls in the age group of 18-19. This percentage is detrimental to a huge extend because voter turnout doesn’t exceed 60-65% and formation of a government happens at mere 30-35%. Many of these 15 million are those who have turned 18 on January 1 2019. This translates to the fact that a bunch of these students are currently pursuing their bachelor’s or will enrol in a under graduation programme in the coming academic year.
In January 2019, The Times of India came up with a fascinating drive to acknowledge the votes that are lost during elections. The campaign known as “Lost Votes” was meant to instigate a conversation on people who sacrifice their votes in order to prioritize their studies or jobs. In many countries, right to vote is a fundamental right but in India, we treat it as a legal right. This stagnates the voter turnout every time and in case of first-time voters, it becomes lower.
“I want to vote but travelling back to Jamshedpur is tedious and hectic. And exams have made it impossible for me to go back and cast my ballot.” says Deepak Singh, a third-year student at Aryabhatta College. Many like Deepak and Shoonya or will lose an important milestone of their lives, the first indelible ink on their fingers, their first votes.
Image credits- Zee News