After days of door to door campaigning, from corner to massive public meetings, media gearing and other little acrobats of elections, it all comes down to one day and literally one factor, “the turnout”.

Turnout factors remain variable across the world as researchers still argue on to what exactly determines the turnout of a certain country on polling day. For example, Bolivia, where voting is compulsory, experiences 92 percent turnout whereas Malta, where it’s not, also stands at 92 percent.

In some cases, countries having a lower literacy rate witness a higher turnout on the elections day as compared to those having a higher literacy rate. Same goes for the economic ruler. Experts label it culture; South American and African countries experience a very high turnover, more than that in most of Asian, European countries and even higher than that of the US, which complexes the issue further.

However, researchers see a faint relation between the number of new registered vote with the number of vote cast. They believe that the countries which observe a hike in registered voters, experience a higher turnout.

Australia, where voting has been declared mandatory since the 1920s, occupies the top position with 93 percent turnout on average at a polling day while Singapore, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland and France are amongst the top scorers.

Compulsory voting: Many countries around the world have declared voting mandatory, but some enforce this law and others remain lenient. For example if an Australian fails to participate in the election, the Australian Electoral Commission writes to the individual requesting to either provide a reason for their failure to vote or pay a $20 penalty. If, within 21 days, the non-voter fails to reply, prosecution proceedings may be instigated. If the person is tried and found guilty, he or she may be fined up to $50 plus court costs. In another case, if a Bolivian fails to participate in an election, he may be denied the withdrawal of 3 months of salary from the bank.

There are 10 countries that enforce compulsory voting: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Luxembourg, Nauru, Peru, Singapore, Uruguay and Schaffhausen. Countries where voting is compulsory by law but implementation is lenient are: Belgium, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Greece, Honduras, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Thailand.

When it comes to Pakistan, the country has the lowest turnover in Asia and is amongst the last few in the world with an average turnout of 45 percent. The highest turnout was seen in 1977 which was 55 percent. Since then the turnout stooped down every time the country went to polls and hit the lowest 35 percent in 1997. There was a surge in balloting for the polls of 2002 when the turnout was 41.80 percent.

Turnout in polls since 1977:

    2002    41.80%

    1997    35.17%

    1993    40.28%

    1990    45.46%

    1988    43.07%

    1985    52.93%

    1977    55.02%

The 2008 elections witnessed a comparatively better turnout; 33.21 percent in KPK, 30 percent in Fata, 49 percent in Islamabad, 48 percent in Punjab, 44 percent in Sindh and 30 percent in Baluchistan, stretching the overall turnout to 43.65.

Analysts say that though election would be unpredictable in many ways, the 3.5 million new voters would boost the turnout this time.

Political observers say that media has played a great role in spreading awareness about the importance of balloting. The impact of media was faintly seen in 2002 elections which grew in 2008 when it played a vital role in uniting the people against the king’s party, the PMLQ.

But this time, media campaigning has seen its peak in Pakistan when law and order situation and the hunger of reaching out the masses in the best way had shifted the campaigns from the roads to TV screens.

Owing to the increasing awareness and enthusiasm of the youth, it is being said that the country will see its highest turnout, especially in urban areas.

Noted journalist Mujeebur Rehman Shami says the turnover would be over 50 percent this year. He says that the enthusiasm of youngsters and the hype of the election would produce a higher turnout.

Renowned TV anchor Talat Husain says that the voting pattern would not undo the previous pattern. He said that the turnout would not be as higher as being expected due to many reasons. He said that the law and order situation and the transport limitation will be hindering factors for voters.

Whatever the expert say, the final verdict belongs to the people who have the chance to elect their representatives by casting ballots.