Chennai saw a drop in voter turnout with a polling percentage of 59.06% in the 2021 Assembly elections held on Tuesday amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the sweltering summer. Chennai recorded the lowest voter turnout in the state, which saw an overall polling percentage of 72.78%.
In Chennai, the highest turnout was recorded in Avadi with 68% of the people turning out to vote while the least was recorded in Velachery with only 55.95% coming out to exercise their franchise. After Avadi, the next highest voter turnout was recorded in Madhavaram (66.7%) followed by RK Nagar (66.57%) and Thiruvottiyur (65%). The least voter turnout within Chennai after Velachery was recorded in Mylapore (56.59%) and Sholinganallur (57.86%). This shows that constituencies in south and central Chennai saw a poor turnout compared to those in the north.
Tuesday’s polling percentage was higher than the 2019 voter turnout when the city recorded 57.43% for the Lok Sabha elections. However, the voter turnout was less than the 60.4% it recorded in the 2016 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls. In 2011, which saw 80% voter turnout across the state, Chennai once again polled the lowest numbers at 66.38%.
So is it just voter apathy in the city that explains the low turnout?
Speaking to TNM, senior journalist Kalki Priyan said, “The main reason I see is the increasing coronavirus cases. People are scared of the second-wave of COVID-19 and they are hesitant to step out. Many elderly voters above 50 years of age have not stepped out.” Chennai has seen a surge in the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, with daily infections crossing the 1300 mark from Sunday.
Kalki also noted, “I think numbers show that the Chennai youngsters are not taking voting seriously and separate campaigns should be conducted among them.”
He also observed that the dip in voter turnout cannot be seen as an advantage for the ruling party, with history often defying these trends.
Overall, the elections in Tamil Nadu was conducted without any major untoward incidents or clashes barring the mob attack on DMK candidate Karthikeya Sivasenapathy’s car in
Coimbatore and the stone pelting on Theni MP and son of O Panneerselvam, Ravendranath Kumar’s car. The election also witnessed COVID-19 patients coming out and voting in their PPEs kits during the reserved hour between 6 pm -7pm on Tuesday. The results for the elections will be declared on May 2.