Karnataka elections: ‘Excited’ first-time voters and ‘experienced’ elderly steal the show on polling day

To draw people to use their voting rights, the EC took many initiatives such as theme-based and ethnic polling booths.

ByMahesh M Goudar | Bellie Thomas

Published May 10, 2023 | 6:41 PM Updated May 10, 2023 | 6:41 PM

First time voters and elderly cast their votes. (South First)

Polling day of the Karnataka Assembly elections 2023 witnessed “excited” first-time voters and the elderly exercising their franchise.

They were seen participating in the voting process enthusiastically, on Wednesday, 10 May.

And they were not small in numbers. According to Election Commission (EC) officials, as many as 11.71 lakh were eligible to exercise their franchise for the first time.

Of the total eligible voters, 16,914 are centenarians and 12.16 lakh are above the age of 80.

Theme-based and ethnic polling booths — 737 all across the state — added a lot of colour to the exercise.

Related: KSCA appeals to people to ‘vote with their conscience’

‘Happy and excited’

“Happy and excited” were the expressions of most first-time voters.

“I’ve waited almost 20 years for this moment and I’m excited. I decided my vote after examining the development endeavours of each candidate,” Ramya S, a resident of Bengaluru, told South First.

Pooja, a first-time voter exercised her franchise at Ram Mandir polling station in Chamarajpet in Bengaluru.

“I am casting a vote for the first time. I’m excited,” said Pooja.

In a bid to check apathy among voters, the EC had come up with an out-of-the-box idea by holding the poll in the middle of the week to prevent people from planning an outing by clubbing the poll-day holiday with the weekend break.

“Date of the poll has been kept on a Wednesday. Had it been on a Monday, it would have come with a holiday of Saturday and Sunday. And had it been on a Tuesday, take a day off and we can go out… Wednesday is a little difficult,” an EC official said.

‘Everyone should vote’

IT employees Siddaramappa Navalagund, and Harish Navalagund appealed to everyone to exercise their franchise.

“The voting percentage in Bengaluru is usually, so everyone should use their power to decide on the government,” said Navalagund.

To draw people to use their voting rights, the EC took many initiatives such as theme-based and ethnic polling booths, and pink booths exclusively operated by women.

According to the EC, it has set up 996 all-women-managed polling booths, 239 booths managed by people with disabilities and 286 managed by youth.

“I have voted for that candidate who has done development work & addresses our grievances,” Lalitha A, homemaker, told South First.

This was the first state-wide Assembly election where the Vote-From-Home option was given to those elderly people who completed 80 years and were unable to reach the polling
station, according to an election officer.

Boramma, a centenarian from Melagodu in Holenarasipur Taulk of Hassan district, however, chose to walk to the polling booth with a stick for support holding the hand of her son.

‘Voting for the past 60 years’

After casting her vote, Boramma said, “I have completed 100 years. I am happy to vote. Everyone should vote and may good happen to everyone. I have been voting for the past 60 years. I never ever missed a single election without voting”.

“The party that I support is doing good for the nation. They have been doing development works across the nation. Everyone should come in large numbers to cast their votes,” said Larika Madhusudan, a first-time voter.

Many elderly voters reached the polling booths on wheelchairs like Nagalakshmi, 84, who cast her vote at Malleshwaram in Bengaluru.

There were brides and bridegrooms in the queue who voted in multiple booths.

Sahil Dhariwal, 26, preferred casting his vote ahead of his marriage in Bengaluru.

“I am voting for the first time. Last time I could not vote because of certain reasons. This time I made a point not to miss this opportunity,” Dhariwal said.

Second-year medical student Namita cast her vote for the first time at Ram Mandir Polling Station in Chamrajpet, she said that she cast her vote based on the developments in her area.

At Periyapatna in Mysuru district, a couple queued up for voting soon after they tied the nuptial knot.

Transgenders too did not fall behind and voted in large numbers, an EC official said.

(With PTI inputs)