Shyam Saran Negi, 105, cast his vote for the 33rd time on Saturday as poll officials welcomed India’s first voter at the polling booth at Kalpa village in Himachal Pradesh by rolling out a red carpet for him during the Mandi parliamentary byelections.
District officials escorted Negi to the polling booth inside a primary school built in 1890, Negi has never missed his date with voting .
Born on July 1, 1917, according to official records, Negi was the first to vote in India’s maiden general election. Though the election was held in February 1952, polling in tribal Kinnaur was organised five months in advance in October owing to fears of inclement weather as the valley is snowbound in winter.
Kalpa was called Chinni at that time Kalpa was the headquarters of Chini tehsil of the then Mahasu district of Himachal Pradesh.
The voter turnout in Kalpa village has increased ever since Negi was declared India’s first voter. Before the introduction of EVMs, the polling percentage was 55% for Lok Sabha and 60-65% for Vidhan Sabha elections. After the introduction of EVMs in 2003 and increased awareness due to initiatives taken by the Election Commission and district administration, the poll percentage increased to 70% in parliamentary and 76% in the Vidhan Sabha elections.
During the 2014 elections, Google made a video featuring Negi for its pledge to vote campaign.