KARACHI: Young voters are likely to play a deciding role in the upcoming general elections with over 34 per cent of voters aged less than 31 years, according to statistics obtained from the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The latest figures show that out of the total 85.42 million registered voters, 16.88 million, or 19.77 per cent of total voters are less than 26 years of age, while 12.73 million, or 14.91 per cent are between 26 to 30 years.
The largest segment of voters, 20.13 million voters comprising 23.58 per cent of the total base, is between 31 to 40 years of age.
Experts believe that the figures signal a revival in political interest and activism shown by the Pakistani youth in the forthcoming polls.
“After a revival in political interest shown by youngsters during the lawyers’ movement, the youth was largely disillusioned with politics,” says Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).
“In the days to come, youngsters are likely to cast more votes, especially with their recent increased participation in rallies, blogging, and political activism,” he said. “We hope there will be a revival, especially with the ‘Imran Khan phenomenon’.”
Overall, the younger population may end up playing a significant role in the results of the elections, with more than 49.76 million or 58 per cent of total voters 40 years or younger.
There has been skepticism over how many of these young voters will actually make it to the polling stations on Election Day.
However, there are positive signs that turn-out would be better than previous years.”
“In the past, the turnout for young voters tended to be less than the average turnout, as previous exit polls have shown us. This trend is likely to be reversed in the coming polls. Secondly, with the independence of the ECP, people now have greater confidence that their votes will actually count towards the results of the elections,” said Mehboob.
Province-wise, Punjab leads by a staggering 57.17 per cent out of the country’s 85 million voter base. The province also has the largest number of women voters, with 21.29 million or 43.6 per cent of the Punjab's 48.83 million voter base comprising of women.
Interestingly, 3,844 senior citizens over 100 years of age have registered themselves for voting, with the majority (2,524) of them from Punjab province.In terms of number of voters, Sindh will be the second largest battleground in the coming polls, with the province representing 18.66 million or 21.84 per cent of all voters. 44.7 per cent of voters in Sindh are women.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa represents 14.33 per cent, while Balochistan comprises only 3.9 per cent of Pakistan’s total registered voters.
Gender-wise, men outnumber women in the total number of registered voters, with 48.25 million or 56.5 per cent male voters as compared to 37.16 million or 43.5 per cent female voters.
Unfortunately, the percentage of registered women voters is about five percent less than their ratio in the total population, says Mehboob.
However, there has been a gradual positive growth in the percentage of women voters being registered.
“In 2006, only around 30 per cent of all registered voters were women. However, monthly figures of registered voters have shown that this has been growing slowly but gradually,” Ahmed Bilal Mehboob added.
“This is a very positive trend, and we are hopeful that it will continue until gender-parity has been achieved.”