New Delhi, May 22: As the Lok Sabha elections 2019 closed with the conclusion of the seventh and final phase on May 19, data shows a marginal increase in the overall turnout, even as women participation touched yet another high, virtually closing the gender gap in voting.
About 67% of the electorate came out to vote this time - marginally higher than the 66.44% turnout in 2014, but the highest since independence.
The turnout of women exceeded that of men in at least nine states and Union Territories, with the highest in Manipur at 84.16% and Meghalaya at 73.64%, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Uttarakhand, Goa, Mizoram and Lakshadweep.
In Kerala, where violence followed the Supreme Court's verdict allowing women and girls to enter the Sabarimala temple, the female voter turnout this time was 78.8%, higher than the 76.47% for men. In 2014, the figures were almost even at 73.84% for women and 73.96% for men.
While in Gujarat, men outnumbered women with the highest margin, but the state saw an increase in women voter turnout as compared to 2014.
While the average turnout of men was 68.3% in the first four phases of polling held from April 11 to April 29, the figure for women was 68%, according to data made available by the Election Commission of India. The number of women voters in these phases was 203.1 million compared with 215 million for men.
2014 saw an increase in women voters, outnumbering men in several key constituencies in Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. While the elections saw an overall increase in turnout from 58% to 66%, the gender gap between men (67%) and women (66%) thinned down.
The increased participation can be attributed to many reasons, such as better access to mobile phones and hence, news besides outreach by political parties. Studies have also found that women voters tend to focus on issues like livelihood, access to water and health, and education. So will women turnout be a deciding factor in this election?