At 75.6%, the voter turnout in Himachal Pradesh in the Assembly election on November 12 was the highest ever, according to Election Commission of India (ECI) sources aware of the final polling statistics related to the State.
On a steady uptick in each subsequent Assembly election since the State first went to the polls in 1951, the highest historical voting percentage in Himachal Pradesh in these Assembly election has recorded an increase of over 200% compared to the 25.26% voter turnout the first time.
However, while the State witnessed 100% voting amid harsh weather conditions at the world’s highest polling booth, Tashigang, located at a height of 15,265 feet, its summer capital Shimla not only recorded the lowest voter turnout at 62.53% but a decline of 1.4% in voting percentage compared to the last election.
Booths such as Chasak Bhatori in Bharmaur Assembly Constituency in Chamba recorded a turnout of 75.26% despite presenting challenges such as a walking distance of 14 km at a height of 11,948 feet while Dharamshala saw 70.92%, Kasumpti, Shimla (Urban) 68.29%, and Solan 66.84%.
With the average turnout in important urban areas found to be approximately 8% lower than the turnout in rural constituencies — evidencing urban voter apathy which Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar has sought to address in more ways than one and has directed Chief Electoral Officers across the country to confront — sources said the commission felt the need to underline that there was a need to defeat it.
The commission has advocated establishing Voter Awareness Forums in work organisations (private or government) to highlight the significance of voting and motivating urban working citizens to come out and vote.
If there was voter apathy in urban areas, the average voter turnout in 85 polling stations set up above 10,000 feet, ironically, was found to be close to the State average despite the odds
More than 50,000 personnel were mobilised for the Assembly poll which not only witnessed a 4.5% higher voter turnout of women compared to that of men voters but also approximately 2% higher than the State’s total voter turnout. While 76.8% women exercised their franchise, only 72.4% men voted.