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Voting for candidates, not parties: Why Goa witnessed record turnout this time

assembly elections Updated: Feb 07, 2017 17:43 IST
Nida Khan
Nida Khan
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Goa

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar finding his name in the voter list at a polling booth in Goa on Saturday. (PTI)

Goa saw a record voter turnout of 82.23% on Saturday, with people thronging polling booths to participate in a four-cornered political battle for power.

While north Goa registered a voter turnout of 84.31%, it was 80.47% in south Goa. This does not include 794 people, whose votes were declared invalid after the Election Commission recommended re-polling at a polling station in Margao, south Goa.

This year’s voter turnout was a significant increase from the 81.73% clocked during the 2012 assembly election.

Read | Assembly elections: With record turnouts, Punjab and Goa may be in for a change

Political observers say Goans have always attached great significance to their political preferences, and election-time is when they choose to act on them. “The people of Goa are vocal and politically aware. They vote for candidates, not parties. The voters here pick the candidates they identify with,” senior journalist Mayabhushan Nagvenkar remarked.

Previous voting percentages
  • 2012: 81.73% - Male 78.86 % Female 84.57 %
  • 2007: 70.51% Male 69.70% Female 70.30%
  • 2002 : 68.75% - Male 69.87% Female 67.61%
  • 1999: 65.00% - Male 66.78% Female 63.15%
  • 1994: 71.20% -Male 71.73% Female 70.65%

The fact that Goa has a higher literacy rate than the national average contributes significantly to the electoral eagerness of its residents, he said. “Besides this, we had political parties as well as the Election Commission mobilising voters for the cause. We had a large number of regional political parties coming up, and AAP was making its entry for the first time. It was only natural that these developments should spur voters to come out in large numbers,” added Nagvenkar.

Prakash Kamat, another senior political journalist from the state, had an alternative theory for the impressive voter turnout witnessed on Saturday. “While it’s true that Goans are quite particular about exercising their franchise, the high numbers witnessed in this election are due to the revision of electoral rolls carried out during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The old list contained several anomalies, including names of dead people and those with Portuguese passports. With photo IDs coming into the picture, electoral rolls have become much more transparent,” he said.

Kamat also applauded the efforts of grass root workers in making this election a success. “Goa is a state where the chances of an individual candidate are the same as that of a national-level political party. In fact, the individual has a higher chance if he/she has good reach. People want to vote on the basis of the issues they face,” he said.

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