Bharti.Jain@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:

The voter turnout for the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls was the highest ever, at a tentative 67.11% across 542 constituencies, barring Vellore where polls were rescinded, and 1.16% higher than the 65.95% turnout in 2014. The figure could be subject to revision after re-polling is completed.

The final overall turnout for all 543 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 was 66.4%, which too is lower than the polling figure for 542 seats in 2019. Before 2019, the highest ever poll percentage recorded in a parliamentary election was in 2014.

Consolidated voter turnout data for 2019 Lok Sabha sourced from Election Commission is tentative and subject to change, said an EC official.

A look at statewise voter turnouts in the current Lok Sabha poll shows that polling percentage was higher in 18 states/UTs and lower in 16 states/UTs compared with 2014. The comparative figures for Telangana and Andhra were not available as the former came into existence only after the last Lok Sabha poll and the 2014 turnout figures pertain to a pre-bifurcated Andhra.

The highest increase in the turnout between 2014 and 2019 was in Madhya Pradesh

(71.2% from 61.6%, a jump of 9.6%), followed by Himachal Pradesh (71.5% from 64.5%).

The biggest dip in terms of turnout was in Jammu and Kashmir, with 29.4% polling, down sharply from 49.7% recorded in 2014.

81.9% turnout in Bengal just short of 2014 figure

While Lakshadweep recorded the highest turnout at 85% in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the north-eastern states of Tripura (83.2%), Nagaland (83.1%) and Manipur (82.7%) were not too far behind. The overall high turnout in West Bengal at 81.9% was still short of the 2014 figure of 82.2%.

Not surprisingly, the terror-inflicted state of J&K had the lowest polling percentage at 29.4%. Only two states recorded sub-60% turnouts —Bihar 58.1% and UP a slightly higher 59.6%.

Voter turnouts have fluctuated over the past 16 Lok Sabha elections, the lowest being in the first election, held in 1951, with 45.7% voter participation. Thereafter turnouts were 47.7% in 1957, 55.4% in 1962, 61.3% in 1967 (the first elections when Indira Gandhi led Congress), 55.3% in 1971, 60.5% in 1977, 56.9% in 1980, 64% in 1984-85 (held in the wake of assassination of Indira Gandhi), 62% in 1989 (when National Front won under V P Singh).

It was 55.9% in 1991-92 (during which Congress president Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated), 57.9% in 1996, 62% in 1998, 60% in 1999, 58% in 2004, 58.2% in 2009 and 66.4% in 2014.