The voter turnout in Phase I of the general elections was 64 per cent, according to Election Commission data.

The overall voter turnout decreased by almost 6 percentage points, as the first-phase LS election in 2019 saw a turnout of 69.4 per cent. Compared to the 2019 election, nine States reported lower turnout this time, with Bihar, Mizoram, and Uttarakhand recording the lowest voter turnout in the first phase.

According to ECI data, nine other States, among 21, reported turnout lower than the national average. In certain constituencies in Nagaland and Manipur, there was zero turnout. Reports of violence, and incidents of booth capturing in some constituencies were worrying.

Lower voter turnout in any democracy signals dissatisfaction among people. Abstaining from voting can also be read as a sign of dissent. According to the British Journal of Political Science, a decrease in voter turnout prompts mainstream political parties to become more responsive to the shifts in the ‘median voter position’ in the subsequent election, aiming to appeal to dissatisfied voters.

However, it is premature to determine whether the overall turnout after the election will be lower compared to the 2019 LS election. Data from the 2019 LS election reveals that the voter turnout was 69.4 per cent in the first phase, which dropped to 65.5 per cent in the fourth phase and further decreased to 64.2 per cent in the seventh phase, resulting in an overall turnout of 67.4 per cent.

A similar trend was observed in the 2014 LS election as well. Therefore, there is a possibility that the current LS election might experience a lower turnout than the previous one.

Only the final results can reveal how Indians would vote once the election is completed. However, it is a cause for concern that despite the EC’s initiatives to encourage people to vote, the turnout was not encouraging. Voters need to actively participate in the electoral process to maintain its sanctity.