Hyderabad: Though first-time young voters can make a substantial difference to the outcome of the elections, many are too disillusioned with the way politics is conducted in this country to vote.
A report of the Centre for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement said there is a significant lack of knowledge among youngsters of voting age about how exactly the government works, and, therefore, how their vote actually matters.
Nearly 20 per cent of young people surveyed said they didn’t know enough to be able to vote.
According to the Centre, voting is like any other habit and must be taught, facilitated, and nurtured through concrete opportunities and through a culture that encourages and celebrates political participation.
And, like most habits, the earlier one develops it, the easier it is to keep at it later in life. Research has shown that young people who cast a ballot earlier in life are more likely to continue voting in the years and decades to come.
Upon speaking to some young voters, it was clear that a few of them knew the names of the contesting candidates from their constituencies. A few were willing to do a check of the criminal charges and the education background of the candidate.
“Forget about the candidates’ names, there are many youth who do not even know the name of the MLA and MP of the same constituency and are not bothered about the local issues. It’s always their uncles and aunties who pick up issues and roam around offices giving representations,” said social activist Sai Teja.
Mr Bonthu Uday Kumar, who works in the city and is a voter from Nagarkurnool constituency, is among the few who says he will check out the background of all the candidates who are contesting through talking to people and from the internet before making up his mind on whom to vote for.
For a majority of young voters, the ‘charisma’ of the party leader plays a major role in deciding the fate of the local candidate. A voter from Vijayawada constituency said that he would vote for the leader that he believes in, whichever party he belongs to.
Party campaign strategists are taking advantage of social media, where the youth are readily to be found, to put out information that could influence them. But, at the end of the day, that will not get them to come out and vote, said political science professor T. Sukumar, who is studying voter behavioural patterns.
According to a political science research paper published in the journal ‘Of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Review, ‘The constructive aspect of charisma has a role at the time of elections. Huge attendance at the meetings addressed by towering personalities like Nehru, Indira, Vajpayee, Modi and a sudden change in the mind of the voters in response to the appeals issued by such great figures may be counted as the concrete evidences of the role of charisma in the electoral behaviour of our people.’