Karnataka elections 2024: Record turnout in rural areas, women voters come out in large numbers

Several factors, including targeted voter education programmes, improved accessibility to polling stations, and heightened political campaigning by local candidates, have contributed to the high polling percentage.

ByNolan Patrick Pinto

Published May 17, 2024 | 8:00 AMUpdatedMay 17, 2024 | 3:34 PM

One of the standout features of the 2024 elections was the heightened engagement of female voters. Pictured, women voters at an ethnic polling station in Garadolli village in Uttara Kannada. (CEO Karnataka/X)

The 2024 Lok Sabha elections witnessed a mixed voter turnout in Karnataka under phases 2 & 3. This reflected varying levels of political engagement across the state.

While rural areas experienced a record turnout, urban regions witnessed a decline. Karnataka recorded a voter turnout of 70.64 percent, a slight increase from 68.81 percent in the 2019 elections.

Despite challenging weather conditions and other factors, this 1.83 percentage point rise in turnout highlights significant voter behaviour and engagement shifts over the past five years.

The Bijapur constituency saw the most significant jump in turnout, increasing from 61.89 percent in 2019 to 66.32 percent in 2024.

Also Read: EC dismayed at poor urban participation

Record voter turnout in rural Karnataka

In a remarkable display of political engagement, rural Karnataka witnessed record voter turnout in the 2024 elections when compared to 2019.

Karnataka voter turnout

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Constituencies such as Bijapur and Raichur reported significant increases, highlighting the growing political consciousness among rural voters.

Bijapur, for instance, saw a voter turnout of 66.32 percent, while Raichur recorded 64.66 percent. This surge in participation underscores the effectiveness of voter awareness campaigns and the importance of addressing rural issues in political discourse.

Analysts attribute this increase to several factors, including targeted voter education programmes, improved accessibility to polling stations, and heightened political campaigning by local candidates.

The impact of grassroots movements and local influencers in encouraging voter participation cannot be overstated. Rural areas often experience tighter-knit communities where word-of-mouth and local events significantly boost voter turnout.

The Indian National Congress (INC) centred its campaign around social welfare programs and farmer support, resonating strongly with rural voters. Their promises of loan waivers for farmers and enhanced rural healthcare services could have struck a chord with the agricultural communities, contributing to the high turnout in rural constituencies.

Also Read: Deputy CM Shivakumar to campaign for Rahul Gandhi in Raebareli

Urban-rural voter turnout disparity

Despite the impressive numbers from rural areas, urban constituencies painted a contrasting picture.

Bangalore’s urban constituencies, including Bangalore Central, Bangalore North, and Bangalore South, experienced a decline in voter turnout compared to the 2019 elections.

Bangalore South’s voter turnout dropped from 54.16 percent (male) and 51.78 percent (female) in 2019 to 52.62 percent (male) and 53.73 percent (female) in 2024.

Analysts attribute this disparity to factors such as urban voter apathy, satisfaction with the status quo, and the transient nature of urban populations.

Urban voter turnout remains a challenge due to several reasons. The fast-paced urban lifestyle often leaves little time for civic engagement, and there is a general sense of political disillusionment among urban voters who feel that their votes may not significantly impact outcomes.

Moreover, logistical issues such as long commutes and congested polling stations could deter voters.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) focused on economic development and infrastructure projects, appealing to voters in urban and semi-urban areas. Its manifesto promised significant investments in technology hubs and transport infrastructure to address urban challenges and boost economic growth.

Also Read: Kerala voter turnout decline sets alarm bells ringing

Female voter engagement

One of the standout features of the 2024 elections was the heightened engagement of female voters.

Karnataka overall voter turnout.

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Constituencies like Bangalore Rural and Dakshina Kannada reported higher female turnout, reflecting increased female political participation.

In Bangalore Rural, female voters constituted a significant portion of the electorate, with a turnout of 69.02 percent. Similarly, Dakshina Kannada saw a female voter turnout of 78.18 percent, indicating that more women are stepping up to exercise their electoral rights.

This increase in female voter engagement can be linked to various initiatives to empower women politically. Targeted campaigns focusing on women’s issues, the rise of female political leaders, and broader societal changes promoting gender equality could have all contributed to this trend.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has also implemented measures to make voting more accessible and secure for women, such as setting up all-women polling stations and providing additional security.

Political party manifestoes also played a role in attracting female voters. The BJP’s manifesto included promises of increased safety measures for women, more educational opportunities, and entrepreneurship programs tailored for women.

Similarly, the INC promised improved maternal healthcare services, financial support for female entrepreneurs, and more vigorous enforcement of laws protecting women’s rights.

These promises likely contributed to the higher female turnout by addressing specific concerns and aspirations of women voters.

Inclusivity in elections

The 2024 elections also marked a milestone in terms of inclusivity, with the inclusion of ‘Other’ gender voters.

This step towards a more inclusive and representative electoral process is significant, showcasing efforts to ensure every citizen’s voice is heard.

The inclusion of ‘Other’ gender voters in constituencies such as Bangalore Rural, where 63 individuals identified as such, highlights the progressive steps being taken to accommodate diverse gender identities.

Also Read: Shifted booths, BLOs’ slip-ups led to low polling in Hyderabad

Consistent political engagement

Specific constituencies demonstrated consistent political engagement, with high voter turnouts being a standard feature.

Chamarajanagar, Hassan, and Dakshina Kannada are notable examples. Chamarajanagar, for instance, reported a turnout of 76.82 percent, Hassan 77.68 percent, and Dakshina Kannada 77.56 percent.

These figures suggest that the electorate in these regions remains deeply invested in the democratic process, reflecting a sustained commitment to political participation.

Strong local leadership, effective voter mobilisation strategies, and a politically aware electorate normally contribute to consistent political engagement and could have been the reason for higher voter turnout in these constituencies.

Also Read: Andhra Pradesh records approximately 68 percent voter turnout

Decreased turnout in some urban areas

While rural areas celebrated record voter turnouts, some urban constituencies reported a decline.

Bangalore Central, Bangalore North, and Bangalore South showed lower voter turnouts than in 2019. This trend raises concerns about urban voter apathy and suggests a need for targeted voter engagement initiatives in urban areas.

The decline in urban voter turnout highlights the challenges of engaging a diverse and often transient urban population. Factors such as voter fatigue, disillusionment with political candidates, and the complexities of urban life contribute to lower participation rates.

Lower participation in some constituencies

Analysts suggest several reasons for this decrease, including potential dissatisfaction with political candidates, a lack of compelling issues that resonate with the electorate, and possible voter fatigue.

Non-political reasons also played a significant role. Social and economic factors, such as migration for employment, and the impact of natural reasons, may have prevented many voters from participating.

Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a heatwave alert for most parts of Karnataka, where temperatures soared to around 45 degrees Celsius.

Election officials noted that despite the extreme heat, the voter turnout in Phase-3 elections was commendable, with 14 constituencies recording a turnout of 70.41 percent.

Also Read: BJP announces candidates for five MLC seats in Karnataka 

Gender disparities in certain constituencies

Despite the overall positive trend in female voter turnout, some constituencies still exhibited significant gender disparities.

Bijapur, for instance, saw a male turnout of 67.27 percent compared to 65.37 percent for females. Such disparities highlight the ongoing need for efforts to encourage and facilitate female participation in the electoral process, ensuring that gender-based barriers to voting are addressed effectively.

Addressing gender disparities in voter turnout requires targeted interventions, such as gender-sensitive voter education campaigns, creating safe and accessible polling environments for women, and addressing socio-cultural barriers that may hinder female participation.

These elections have been a mixed bag of successes and challenges. While rural areas and female voters have shown commendable engagement, urban voter apathy and gender disparities remain areas of concern.

The inclusion of ‘Other’ gender voters is a positive step towards a more inclusive electoral process. As Karnataka continues to evolve politically, these trends offer valuable insights into areas needing focused attention to strengthen democratic participation across the state.

(With inputs and data compilation by Vani Vyshnavi J).

(Edited by Majnu Babu).