The upcoming Punjab assembly elections may not see many first-timers voting, going by the lukewarm response to the new voter registration campaign.
Less than two lakh 18 to 21 year-olds have been registered as voters during the various phases of statewide registration campaign since November 2010, according to sources in the state election department.
According to records obtained from the state statistical department, however, at least six lakh fresh voters should have been registered, considering the projected increase in population since the 2001 census.
Disinterest and lack of awareness are being cited as the main reasons for the wide gap.
In the seven assembly constituencies of Bathinda district, merely 10,292 new voters were registered till March, whereas according to estimates of the district administration, new voters (18-21 years) should have numbered at least 50,000. Following the directions of the Election Commission (EC) to deputy commissioners (DCs) to motivate youngsters to register, the number in the district has since touched 20,000.
In Patiala district, only 23,000 new voters registered, whereas the number should have been more than 60,000.
According to sources, the percentage of new voters is very low in the border districts of Gurdaspur, Ferozepur, Amristsar and Fazilka.
On Sunday, chief electoral officer Kusumjit Sidhu said the EC would project Mahendra Singh Dhoni and APJ Abdul Kalam as inspirational voters and that it would resume the campaign from January 2, 2012.