‘Youth voter turnout remains abysmally low in Pakistan’

Youth voter turnout remains abysmally low in Pakistan, even though youth make the largest chunk of Pakistan’s population and registered voters from 18 to 29 years cohort form the largest of all age cohorts, according to the PILDAT analysis report.

Citing estimated data on youth voter turnout collected by Gallup Pakistan over the past eight general elections since 1988, PILDAT in its analysis report stated that youth voter turnout in the past eight elections happens to be just 31 percent, which is 13 percentage points lower than the average overall voter turnout in these eight elections.

Youth voter turnout is even lower than women voter turnout during the past two elections for which women voter turnout figures are available. Average youth voter turnout estimates are a mere 31.5 percent compared to 40 percent for women voter turnout and 53 percent for average national voter turnout during the last two elections in 2013 and 2018.

In India, youth participation in the 2019 general election exceeded the all India turnout by approximately two percent.

Drawing attention of the Election Commission of Pakistan to the critical issue of low voter turnout of youth in Pakistan, PILDAT has urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to consider carrying out estimation of total number of registered voters in the age group from 18 to 29 years in the electoral rolls with breakdown for gender, provinces and even constituencies. This data also needs to be made public periodically at least on a yearly basis

The PILDAT asked the ECP to consider that undertaking research focusing on youth participation in electoral process to understand the reasons behind extraordinarily low youth voter turnout in Pakistan. Design and execute special campaigns aimed at educating youth about the importance of participation as a voter, it added.

The PILDAT analysis report suggested to the ECP for conducting multiple Exit Polls to ascertain the level of youth voter turnout in the future general elections. It also asked the ECP to consider amending the ECP Strategic Plan 2018-2023 to include strategic actions aimed at addressing the low youth voter turnout.

The PILDAT suggested to the ECP to consider creating a dedicated wing or at least designating a focal person within the ECP to focus continuous attention on youth participation in electoral process.

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