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Yours truly is in India on vacation, and is reading the Sunday Magazine of the popular newspaper, The Indian Express.  You can do so, too, online though online, the photographs and graphics are not as impressive as a two-page spread of large newspaper pages.  

The Indian Express has named The Indian Voter as the "Face of the Year".

The elections referred to were for a handful of state assemblies ("Vidhan Sabha"), not for India's Parliament ("Lok Sabha"), and were held in early December.

In a year of political chaos and administrative drift, India fought back in Delhi and the heartland states which went to polls in the first week of  December. The Angry Young Voter became the Face of the Year, seething with anger, upsetting political fortunes by turning out to cast ballots in record numbers. Who constitutes this new phenomenon that has stunned the establishment? Young, idealist, activist, wired, tech savvy, free-thinker, impatient, energetic, aggressive, alienated and angry— meet the new voters. Aged between 18 and 25, they are students, some employed, many unemployed, women and men, desperately in search of jobs and predominantly from middle class families.

The dominant issues that sent them in droves to booths were inflation, unemployment and women’s safety. Corruption by the ruling elite had been the theme of 2013, leading to massive protests in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities. Inability of the state to protect women was behind the anger that propelled large-scale participation of women voters everywhere.

Beset by problems, the Indian voter did not turn cynical or apathetic, but turned out in record numbers.  

Elections are held in India every five years.  The turn-out for the state assembly elections in the last three cycles is as follows:


State 2003 2008 2013
Delhi 47% 58% 67%
Rajasthan 68% 67% 75%
Madhya Pradesh 67% 69% 72%
Chhatisgarh 71% 71% 75%

Please remember that these state elections, not accompanied with elections to the national Parliament, are akin to non-presidential-year elections in America.

The absolute numbers are also staggering to those unaccustomed to India's scale; though I won't mention them here.  For those who read the article online - a lakh is 100,000, a crore is ten million. (e.g., India overall has 79 crore or 790 million people eligible to vote.)

At one voting booth:

The most determined to cast their franchise were young women, who determinedly searched for their names in the list. “I want to vote, and I am going to vote, so you better find my name fast,” said a young girl, ....... Her father peered over her shoulder at the list being examined by two officials. “Where’s my daughter’s name?” he asked. An official gestured helplessly at the crowd that had hemmed the table where the two sat. “I’m looking,” he said. “I’m a teacher. I want to vote too, but I’m stuck here.” The girl gave a little squeal as she pointed at the list. She had found her name and was ready to vote.
Despite the unending stories of poor governance and corruption that come out of India, and find their way onto the pages and blogs of the New York Times and Washington Post, it would seem that Indians have not lost their faith in government as an institution, and in their ability to cause change by the ballot.

As I read the story, I cannot but wish that the American voter showed as much enthusiasm and energy.   The 2012 Presidential elections, coming after four years of major economic distress, and major gridlock in Washington, had a turn-out of 53.6%. The 2010 elections, which gave us our much beloved do-nothing Republican Congress had a turn-out of 37.8% (source).  The 63.1% turnout in 1960 has not been surpassed in five decades.

Clearly, many Americans feel that casting their ballot is an exercise in futility, and so do not bother. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Wake up, register, and go to the polls!  If you vote at the 75% level in 2014, I guarantee you, not all the corporate money in the world will matter a dime; the politicians of this country will realize whom they are meant to serve.  It will revive this democracy, and change America's fortunes for the better.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Many of us who never miss an opportunity to vote (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Musial, Chi

    feel that the payback on the effort is poor.

    •  rather negative response to positive diary (3+ / 0-)

      We cannot give in, give up or give out. We still can unite. We have the power to be heard and to offer the truth.
      Yes, the payback on voting has been poor, but the as the diary asserts; the matrix turned, and people became involved. That's something the R's don't have, a future. At least not if we stay united and keep exposing the lies, back room deals and sinister designs of the oligarchy currently cooking the books and making their own laws.
      CentralMass, please keep voting, hopefully you will feel rewarded, just because you can.

  •  I do not understand (0+ / 0-)

    who the "you" is in the statement "Wake up, register, and go to the polls!".

    I would suggest that people who read here are already engaged in the process.  The people, who do not vote, would be reading other things

    Show me the diary that shows that Bill Clinton won due to his right-wing positions

    by GideonAB on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 03:44:17 AM PST

  •  Are You Referring To (0+ / 0-)

    the fifty percent of voters who DO NOT vote?

    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 04:27:59 AM PST

  •  I hope people use the absentee ballot. (0+ / 0-)

    I hope there is a big push for absentee ballots in the next election.  That appears to be one good option to what Republicans have done to destroy what use to be open and fair elections.

    Sure, someone could just throw away boxes of ballots.

    Sure, someone could hack the voting machines, and create a false outcome.

    But, with absentee ballots you have the physical ballots and if something is suspected, there is a shot at getting the correct count.

    With people being forced to either come up with documents that could be difficult to obtain, or worse, to stand in line in November for 3 to 8, to 10 hours to cast a vote, that will undoubtedly cause people to simply not participate , the absentee ballot is the best response.

    I wish the Democratic party understood chess just a little better and pushed for absentee ballot reregistration now, and set the table for the next election.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 05:02:45 AM PST

  •  Democracy is participation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Amendment 1 was a ballot initiative in North Carolina that proposed to amend the North Carolina Constitution that makes it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform same-sex marriages or civil unions. On May 8, 2012, North Carolina voters approved the amendment with a whopping total voter turnout of 34.66%.


    •  So while the anti-equality crowd boasts of passage (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The truth is as follows -

      34.66% of eligible voters cast a ballot.

      Of those, 61% voted in favor of Amendment 1.

      (61% of the 34.66% who voted is 21% of all eligible voters.)

      So 21% of eligible voters passed an amendment to the state's constitution that affects 100% of the people in one way or another.

      I'd hardly call that a majority.

      The other sad fact is that 65.34% of eligible voters decided it was not important to express their opinion by voting. They decided it was okay for 21% of eligible voters to decide for them all.

      •  20% has been a magic number (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for reformists getting what they want. With that number you can control the margin in most elections. Progressives are politically illiterate these days, unlike the progressive era when things got done.

      •  So 21% of eligible voters passed an amendment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think that's an excellent point. We should take into account that very few voters are making large decisions often affecting all citizens. That it's been five decades since voter turnout in the U.S. has touched 60% should give us pause.

  •  corruption is "constitutional" according (0+ / 0-)

    to the Roberts Court. the defeated electorate would have to align on a comeback strategy. given depressed voter turnout under a corrupt oligarchy such a movement could succeed. the overriding issue is Congressional overturning of Citizens United to restore election integrity and separation of powers, preliminary to cleaning up "off the books" privatized and secret government. if a constitutional government is restored, then elected officials could begin to address substantive problems at the direction of the sovereign electorate. this happened once before when Lincoln led a voters revolt against slavemaster corruption that had been constitutionalized in Dred Scott.

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