May 20, 2024

Mumbai: 91-year-old Kantaben Nagindas Shah casts her vote by exercising the vote-from-home facility for Lok Sabha elections, in Mumbai, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Photo: PTI)

The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced on Thursday that the voter turnout for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections has reached approximately 66.95 per cent, with an estimated 451 million individuals having cast their votes during the initial four phases.


As of now, voting has concluded in 379 constituencies.


In a media statement, the poll body informed that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar has instructed the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of states scheduled for the 5th, 6th, and 7th phases of polling to ensure timely distribution of voter information slips and to intensify outreach efforts. 


EC has also called upon celebrities to participate in voter awareness campaigns.


Talking about its initiatives to ensure voter turnout, the ECI said that it has implemented targeted initiatives to engage with all eligible voters, including collaborations with celebrities and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who serves as the ECI national icon.


As per the Election Commission (EC), telecommunications companies such as BSNL, Airtel, Jio, and Vodafone are engaging with mobile users through messages and calls in the days leading up to polling, encouraging them to vote. 


Facebook too is issuing voting day alerts to all its users nationwide, while Google is featuring polling day-themed doodles. Furthermore, banking institutions and the Retail Association of India are actively involved in voter awareness initiatives.


“The Commission strongly believes that partnership and collaboration are essential pillars of the voter awareness programme. It’s really heartening to see that on the Commission’s request, different institutions, influencers, and celebrities having significant reach are working enthusiastically on a pro-bono basis,” said the poll body chief.


Furthermore, Kumar emphasised that a high voter turnout would send a powerful message from Indian voters to the world, underscoring the strength of Indian democracy.


On Opposition’s allegations of discrepancy in voter data


Following the publication of the final voter turnout percentage on April 30, which exhibited a significant increase of approximately 5-6 per cent compared to the initial figures, Opposition parties had raised concerns about the delay and alleged discrepancies in the reported data.


On May 10, the ECI responded to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s allegations of discrepancies in the voter turnout data, asserting that the information was not delayed as it was readily available on the Voter Turnout App.


However, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-governmental organisation, filed a petition for an urgent hearing, prompting the Supreme Court to schedule a hearing on May 17.


Voting will be conducted on May 20 and 25 and June 1 in the fifth, sixth, and seventh phases in 164 Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 13 states and Union Territories. The counting of votes will be on June 4.

First Published: May 16 2024 | 5:37 PM IST