Bihar Elections: Higher voting in districts with more migrants

Voter turnout in the first two phases of Bihar election indicates an increase in voting percentage in districts where higher percentage of migrant voters have returned.

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New Delhi: Voter turnout in the first two phases of Bihar elections indicates an increase in voting percentage in districts where higher percentage of migrant voters have returned. Although almost all 38 districts have seen migrants’ return, in 29 districts which had more migrant voters, the turnout was higher than in 2015 assembly polls. The trend is significant as the overall percentages in both phases was marginally lower than 2015, possibly due to Covid-19.

In the first phase, Bhagalpur which had over 49,000 migrant workers recorded 57.04% turn out against 48.17% in 2015. Phase 2 segments of Bhagalpur repeated the trend. Banka with 31,712 migrant workers registered recorded a 59.65% against 58.02% in 2015, Arwal with 18,000 plus migrant workers registered a 55.63% turn out against 52.78% in 2015 and in Aurangabad which has 42,000 returnee migrants, it was 55.58% against 53.01% five years ago. Gaya saw over 82,300 migrants return and recorded 58.65%, against 57.24% in 2015. Similarly, Jamui with 22,000 plus returned migrants 60.30% voted, significantly up from 56.5% turnout of 2015.

Sheohar with over 17,000 migrants posted 56.04% according to initial estimates on Tuesday, against 54.83% in 2015. In Begusarai, with 43,000 plus migrants back the initial estimated turnout was 58.655 almost as good as 58.67% registered at that hour in 2015. Samastipur with 75,600 migrants went past 2015 figure, as did Saran with 67,000 migrants. A similar trend was seen in Siwan with 40,000 plus returnee migrants and Gopalganj with 32,500 plus migrants.

The election commission had been expecting migrant voters to push up the overall Bihar turnout figure to touch 60% in this assembly election. It was in 2000 that Bihar recorded above 60% turnout. Over all, three lakh migrant workers registered as voters in Bihar recently with 38 districts. Nearly 18.8 lakh migrants have returned as per data shared with ECI by the state’s disaster management department.

16.6 lakh of them are eligible to vote. In ordinary times, many of them would not have returned to cast their votes. Due to the lockdown, several lakh migrants are still back home and likely to reach their polling booth to cast their vote. The ECI machinery has been targeting the voters in a big way in their campaigns, officials said.
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