Electoral exclusion of vulnerable populations in India

Mihika Chanchani | Centre for Equity Studies

July 2020

The general election in India is the world’s largest electoral exercise. As of 2018, the Election Commission reported that close to 900 million voters are eligible to vote. Let that number sink in. Every 5 years, a whopping 900 million people are eligible to participate in the democratic process. However, mere eligibility to vote does not translate into the ability to vote for a large section of vulnerable populations. Up to 15% of the total electorate of around 130 million adult citizens is missing from the electoral rolls. Some studies suggested a disproportionate exclusion of Muslims among marginalised groups but although the conclusions were not incontrovertible, these pointed to the possibility of exclusion of otherwise disadvantaged groups, socially, economically, politically and culturally.