Less than one-third of transgender community voted in Gujarat Assembly polls, members claim ‘incomplete registrations’

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Even as the overall voting percentage for the two-phased Gujarat Assembly polls remained low at 64.33 per cent, the third gender especially recorded a rather dismal turnout at 31.99 per cent. While the transgender community claims that the registrations of voters on the electoral roll were incomplete, the State Election Commission (SEC) says that it is at a loss at the lower turnout of the third gender.

The transgenders, who were recognised by the Election Commission of India (ECI) as a separate gender category in 2014, have increased in count on the voter list since the 2017 Assembly polls — where they first voted as the third gender.

From 702 registered transgender voters in 2017 to about 1,100 registered transgender voters in the Lok Sabha polls of 2019, currently, 1,391 transgenders have registered as voters.

However, only 445 turned up across 33 districts of Gujarat to cast their votes 2022 polls.

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In 2017, 298 out of 702 transgenders voted in the Gujarat Assembly polls making a turnout of 42%.

Vadodara district has the highest number of transgender voters at 226. However, only 74 came out to vote, making a voter turn out of 32.74%. While only 10 out of the 94 registered transgenders from Vadodara’s Akota constituency turned out to vote, 41 out of 51 registered transgenders cast their vote in the Raopura constituency.

In Ahmedabad, only 47 out of the 209 transgenders voted making a voter turnout of 22.49 per cent, while 51 out of 160 transgenders voted in Surat marking 31.88% voter turn out.

Anand, where 53 of 128 registered transgender voters came out to cast their votes, saw a turnout of 41.41 per cent.

Tapi district, which has only four transgender voters saw a 75% voter turn out with three coming out to vote, followed by Patan at 65.38% turn out where 17 of the 26 transgenders voted.

In Botad too, three of the five registered transgender voters exercised their franchise, making a 60 per cent voter turn out.

Dahod, where 16 transgenders were registered as voters, saw zero turnout, along with Narmada and Dangs districts having two registered transgender voters, each.

The transgender community says that the lower voting percentage is a result of “incomplete registrations” of voters.

Urvashi Kunwar, from the ‘Kinnar dera’ in Baranpura area of Vadodara, who also works as a volunteer with Lakshya Trust and the Garima Gruh for transgenders in Vadodara was allegedly among the many who could not vote this year.

“I had voted in 2017 but in the revision rolls, my name was not found at the polling station. About 100 new transgenders were waiting for their voter id cards until the last day. They were enrolled as voters by the District Election Office. But despite repeated follow-ups, the voter id cards did not arrive,” Urvashi said.

However, another transgender from Anand district, who identifies herself as Jasmeen, says many registered transgenders could not vote due to “migration” after Covid-19 pandemic.

Jasmeen said, “Many transgenders, who were not part of the deras like in Vadodara and Ahmedabad, could not survive in the same place during the pandemic. A lot of them went back to native villages or even outside the state in search of work… Some have not approached the election officers for revision of rolls. Many transgender voters have also stayed away from voting because they are disillusioned with the fact that nothing has much changed on the ground for the thid gender in terms of security, healthcare or living standards… Transgenders are no body’s votebank.”

Manvendrasinh Gohil of the erstwhile Rajpipla royal family, who is the patron trustee of Lakshya Trust that works for the LGBTQ community said, “It is essential for transgenders to come out and vote and feel part of the mainstream… I have not yet gone into the details, but I learnt that some of them faced a problem in voting during the polls. It is important for the administration to reach out to the transgenders so that they are included in the system.”

Chief Election Officer, Gujarat, P Bharthi told The Indian Express that the low voter turnout among transgenders had highlighted the need to “focus more” on campaigns for the third gender.

“We can’t find a reason to attribute to this low turnout because we have revised the electoral rolls and added more third-gender voters since 2017 Assembly polls. Maybe, the figures are an indication that we must focus more on the community in future voter awareness campaigns. Even this time, we had not left any stone unturned,” Bharathi said.

Rajkot, which had 34, registered transgender voters saw a voting percentage of 41.18 % with 14 transgenders casting their vote on the polling day. Bharati added that the State Election Commission had not received any complaints from transgenders about being unable to vote.



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