Voter turnout of 63.14% was recorded in the first phase of Gujarat assembly elections, which were held on December 1 and covered 89 seats across 19 districts of Saurashtra-Kutch and southern regions of the state. In the 2017 assembly elections, the voter turnout for the same 89 constituencies stood at 66.75%.
Surat, Rajkot and Jamnagar recorded lower than state average voter turnout of 63.3% this year, said the EC.
In the recently concluded general election to the legislative assembly of Himachal Pradesh, urban assembly constituency (AC) of Shimla recorded the lowest voter turnout at 62.53% (less by 13 percentage point) as against the state average of 75.6%.
Gujarat cities have shown similar urban apathy trend during voting on December 1 thus pulling down the percentage of voting.
Gujarat elections: Full coverage
Noting the voter turnout figures with concern, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar appealed to voters of Gujrat to come out in large numbers during second phase so as to compensate for low voting in the first phase.
“The possibility of surpassing 2017 voting percentage now lies in their increased participation only,” said Kumar.
The Gandhidham AC in Kuchchh district, which has industrial establishments, recorded the lowest polling percentage of 47.86%, a sharp decline of 6.34 percentage points compared to the last election. The second lowest voting was in Karanj constituency of Surat at 50.54%, which is 5.37 percentage points lower than in 2017
The EC said there is a conspicuous gap in voting turnout between rural and urban constituencies.
The gap of voter turnout is as wide as 34.85 percentage points if it is compared in rural constituency of Dediapada in Narmada district which has recorded 82.71% turnout and that in urban AC of Gandhidham in Kuchchh district, which has witnessed 47.86% of voter turnout.
Also, average turnout in important urban areas is lower than turnout in rural constituencies. Within many districts, rural constituencies in those districts have voted
much more than the urban constituencies of the same district. For example in Rajkot, there is a decline in all the urban ACs, said the poll panel.
All the 26 assembly constituencies that recorded more than 65% voting are rural and not even one urban AC has crossed the mark of 65% voter turnout, said the EC.
To address the urban apathy trend across the country, the EC has directed all CEOs to identify low voter turnout ACs and polling stations to ensure targeted awareness interventions to increase voting percentage.
(With inputs from agencies)