Paying attention to young voters


In continuation to the 2023 theme, ‘Nothing Like Voting, I Vote For sure’, the Election Commission of India (ECI) celebrated the 14th National Voters’ Day (NVD) on January 25, 2024. This day is celebrated nationwide to encourage the youth to participate in the vote in the electoral process. With over 96 crore electors, making India the world’s largest democracy, proper attention has always been given to the young eligible voters, not just to encourage participation in the electoral process but to register as a voter and cast their vote at every election. 

Unlike previous times, in view of the forthcoming General Elections to the 18th Lok Sabha Parliamentary election 2024, the level of campaigning and awareness programmes has been on a higher note. Nagaland votes for the lone Lok Sabha seat on April 19. Three candidates are contesting from Nagaland- Dr Chumben Murry from Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and also People's Democratic Alliance (PDA) consensus candidate, Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) President, S Supongmeren Jamir from Congress and Hayithung Tungoe Lotha as Independent candidate.

On March 20, 2023, following the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections, Nagaland Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Vyasan R informed that polling will be held in 2342 polling stations across Nagaland State and 16,000 security personnel will be deployed for security measures. Nagaland has 13.17 lakh voters comprising of 6.60 lakh females and 6.50 lakh males and a total of 19,000 individuals are first-time voters. According to the 2011 census, Nagaland has a total of 6,10,886 youth aged between 15-29 years.

With the objective to engage citizens in the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had launched ‘Turning 18’ campaign, specifically targeting young and first-time voters. The primary objective is to galvanize youngsters to participate in the upcoming elections. A government update explains that “‘Turning 18’ campaign employs various compelling themes and strategies to capture the attention of its audience. The strategy involves branding of individual series with thematic logos for easy identification and association.”

Young people in general are passionate about the issues that impact them, yet when it comes to electoral system, many young voters are disillusioned with the democratic process. Although there are visible efforts of various stakeholders to encourage registration of first-time voters and there is a possibility of seeing an increase in the number of registration, the greater question remains if the targeted groups are impacted for long-term result. The commemoration of one day events, special campaigns just around the corner of election, or being mentioned in the political party promises might not be enough to educate, empower and engaged the young voters. The challenge could be perhaps addressed by filling the gap of instilling faith in the whole electoral process, being empowered with responsibility in the democratic process, ensure they are represented well, and also encouraging to build a participatory democracy throughout the year.

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