Registration of young voters in Karnataka remains low, despite multiple efforts by the Election Commission.
College going voters in the city thought that registering for voting was a long and difficult process. The Karnataka Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) Action Plan 2023 stated that youth “lack clarity” regarding voter registration process.
Ankith Gowda, a student at St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore said that most of the students were not aware that the registration process was simple. He said that some Bruhat Bengaluru MahanagaraPalike (BBMP) officials visited his college at first to make offline registrations but then the National Service Scheme (NSS) club and other such clubs in the college helped students with online registrations.
According to the SVEEP report, the state will have 9,17,241 first time voters for the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections. However, the report shows that despite efforts to increase voter registration of young voters (18-19 years), the electoral to population ratio remains 36 percent, with young women having very low registration percentage. The report also found that compared to other age groups, the young voters from the ages of 18 to 25 gave less importance to voting. It also said that “It is interesting to see that as education levels increase, the participation of people in casting votes goes down.”
In order to increase voter awareness among younger and first time voters, colleges across the city have started voter awareness clubs helping students to register to vote. Ankith said that in his college, various associations have made videos about election awareness and regular registration of voter ID is conducted by the NSS units. He said that “The data of students from Bangalore was collected and we had registration desks around the college for almost a month.” He added that the college’s communication department also made various promotional videos for voting. .
Similarly, Bharat Jain from BMS College of Engineering said that all the students in his college have been added to WhatsApp groups each with 100 members. The groups are used to send information on party manifestos and candidate details. He added that they are ensuring that students register to get their voter IDs in college by providing adequate documents.
The report states that non-availability of voter ID cards is an impediment to higher voter turnout and “Young achievers in various fields should be recruited as youth ambassadors and utilized for election campaigns. It was felt that more efforts should be laid in creating awareness about None of the Above (NOTA) so that the youth could voice their disagreement in a free manner.”