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The first phase of Indian Lok Sabha elections 2019 are underway and we are already coming across reports of poll booth malfunction from different parts of the country. A prominent entrepreneurs from Southern India, Upasana Konidela wrote on Twitter about how her mother Shobhana Kamineni wasn’t allowed to vote even when “She checked 10 days ago and her name was on the list.”

Along with the tweet, she posted a video of her mother who said, “This is the worst day for me as a citizen of India. I was travelling abroad and I came back to exercise my right to vote. I come to the booth and I am told that my vote is deleted. Am I not an Indian citizen? Am I not counted in this country? Is my vote not important? This is a crime against me as a citizen and I will not tolerate it.”

BBC India’s Geeta Pandey also tweeted about several Muslim names missing from voters’ list in Baghpat constituency Uttar Pradesh. She posted pictures of people who couldn’t find their names in the voter lists, including two women Ghazala Khan and Shabnam who were “unable to vote” because their names didn’t feature in the voter list.

ALSO READ: Why Women Need To Organise Themselves As A Vote Bank

Poll experts Prannoy Roy and Dorab Sopariwala found in their research that a total of 21 million women above the age of 18 are absent from the latest list of voters, quoted BBC. The report said that Roy and Sopariwala compared the extrapolated number of women above the age of 18 in the census to the number of women in the latest list of voters to reach the conclusion. The research also found that more than half of the women who don’t have their names in the voter list belong to Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan while Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have the least number of women whose names aren’t there in the voter list.

They say that 21 million women out of the voter list across the country mean that every constituency will be short of 38, 000 women voters on an average. And Uttar Pradesh will suffer the most with a shortage of 80,000 women voters.

“This is the worst day for me as a citizen of India. I was travelling abroad and I came back to exercise my right to vote. I come to the booth and I am told that my vote is deleted. Am I  not an Indian citizen? Am I not counted in this country?”

“Women want to vote, but they are not allowed to vote. This is deeply worrying. It also raises a lot of questions. We know that there are some social reasons behind this problem. But we also know that by controlling turnouts you can control results. Is that one of the reasons? We really need to investigate further to get to the truth,” Prannoy Roy told BBC.

This figure is even more significant at a time when women want to cast their votes in large numbers. In the last few years, many state assembly elections saw the gender gap in male and female voter turnout closing and in some states like UP, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Mizoram etc. women voters actually outnumbered male voters. This election takes precedence in the fact that it could see more women casting votes than men in the general elections which hasn’t happened before. In the 2014 general election 64% women voted in comparison to 67% male voters, this was the lowest voter gender gap since 1952.

There are around 16 million first-time voters in the phase one of Lok Sabha election, and for the first time ever, women first-time voters have outnumbered men first-time voters by a fair margin. In this scenario losing out on women voters who want to cast votes is a major failure.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

Picture Credit: Livemint

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