Climate Change

Lok Sabha 2024: Did heat dissuade voters during phase 3?

Almost half of the districts analysed saw a rise in temperature as well as a lower voter turnout on polling day on May 7, 2024

By Pulaha Roy
Published: Friday 17 May 2024

With monsoon still a couple weeks away and the ongoing general elections in full swing, how much of a factor is rising temperature turning out to be in this election season? 

Shortly after the completion of Phase 1 of the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission of India convened a meeting with officials from the India Meteorological Department over measures aimed at protecting voters from heatwaves, which is expected to intensify as summer sets in India.

Down to Earth (DTE) tried to add context to this development by analysing the relationship of heat with voter turnout. 

In the third phase held on May 7, 2024, among the 542 parliamentary constituencies analysed, 60 per cent or 327 constituencies reported an increase in temperature, compared to the 30-year average (1981 to 2010).

The eastern part of the country, owing to pre-monsoon showers during the first week of May, was relatively cooler when the country went to polls for the third phase. In sharp contrast, the northwestern, western and southern constituencies were warmer compared to the 30-year average. 

DTE compared the temperature data with the voter turnout in 93 constituencies for the third phase. The analysis did not explicitly throw up any direct correlation with rising temperatures and the inverse impact it might have had on overall voter turnout, so any inference would be skewed. 

For instance, in constituencies in southern Maharashtra and northern Karnataka, while most of the constituencies had reported an increase in mean temperatures that should translate to lower voter turnout but the scenario was just the opposite.

There was, however, a direct correlation between rise in temperature and overall decrease in voter turnout in 43 of the 93 constituencies which voted during the third phase.

Earlier, DTE reported that during the first phase, the Indo-Gangetic Plains and Rayalaseema region in the south recorded the largest rise in temperatures, while the mercury dipped in Rajasthan constituencies such as Barmer, Jalore, Pali, Rajsamand and Bhilwara. The latter scenario, however, did not automatically translate into bigger voter turnout in the region.

In the second phase, DTE again found an inverse correlation between a temperature drop and overall voter turnout in constituencies in Karnataka.

As many as 87 of the 102 constituencies that went to polls in the first phase and 53 out of 89 that voted during the second phase reported a direct correlation between rise in temperature and overall decrease in voter turnout, the analysis indicated. 

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