How is the josh among rural voters in Odisha? It seems mixed. Because the duo of poll violence and Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the voter turnout to a large extent in some key districts during the ongoing Panchayat elections. People choose life and employment over polling, suggests the data.
An analysis of the past election data from 2002 onwards reveals that the polling percentage or the voter turnout in the third phase elections today has been the lowest since the 2002 Panchayat polls.
As per the data released by SEC, Odisha, the polling percentage in the third phase that was marred by sporadic violence had recorded a voter turnout of 71 percent. Data shows the turnout in 2017 was 77.23 percent and 74 percent in 2007. In 2002, the voting percentage was 70.49 percent.
Violence And Voter Turnout
In the ongoing rural polls, Jajpur district has been the worst hit by poll violence and malpractices. The final voter turnout in the district during the last 2 phases shows that the polling percentage in the district has recorded a fall.
Sample this. In 2002 Panchayat polls, the district saw a total voter turnout of 65 and 70 percent in the first two phases of the polls, respectively.
In 2007, the polling percentage had been 70 percent in both phases.
In 2017, the turnout in the first two phases in the district had been 73 and 76 percent, respectively.
Hit by unprecedented violence this year, the polling percentage dropped to 74 and 70 percent, respectively, in the first two phases.
The violence trail is clearly discernible as the first phase this year had seen a marginal rise in voting percentage. But post the widespread violence, the turnout in the second phase dropped by a whopping 6 percent.
Thumbs Down To Polls In CM's Home District
Even as the politicians across the spectrum look very excited over the ongoing Panchayat polls, the voters in the rural Ganjam, the home district of CM Naveen Patnaik, look hardly amused. After bearing the pandemic brunt in the first wave, the rural voters here, who remain engrossed with the basic minimum needs like Rice (food), Kapada (income as many are employed in textile mills) and Makan (shelter), have given a miss to the polls this year.
The numbers tell the larger tale.
- 2002 - 62 percent and 67 percent voter turnout.
- 2007 - 60 percent and 65.8 percent.
- 2017 - 70 percent and 67 percent.
- 2022 - 64.96 percent and 64.86 percent.
- Data documents the thumb down.
- Second phase voter turnout lowest since 2002.
- The lowest turnout attributed to the double whammy of pandemic and large-scale unemployment in the district
- This means due to lack of employment opportunities, more in the age group of the working population had migrated to other states for employment, when the pandemic had devastated the income of a large number of households in the district.