On Politics
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On Politics

On First-Time Voters

2019 Sri Lanka Presidential Election

Distribution of FTVs in 2019

[For this article, I define first-time voters (FTV), as voters who are voting for the first time in the Presidential Election. I.e. people who will be old enough to vote this November 16th, but were not old enough to vote in the 2015 Presidential Election. Even if you’ve already voted in another election, if this is your first presidential election, you are an FTV.]

Expected Proportion of FTVs by district (2019)
Expected Absolute Number of FTVs by district (2019)
  • Life Expectancy. Areas with lower life expectancies would have a larger proportion of youth, and hence FTVs
  • Birth Rate. Areas with higher birth-rates would have a larger percentage of FTVs.
  • Migration

How FTVs Vote and Misleading Correlations

Presidential Elections are by secret ballot. Hence, we don’t know how a particular age group might have voted.

Correlation between FTVs and Party Votes (2015 — Nationwide)

A Tale of Two Towns

Consider the following “toy” example.

Correlation between FTVs and Party Votes (2015 — Southern Province)

So what can we say?

We don’t have enough data to say how exactly FTVs will vote. However, if we assume that FTVs voting within a given polling division will be similar to non-FTV voting, we can estimate the effect the new voters will have on the final result.

Vote Delta by Electoral District — 2015 Sri Lankan Presidential Election
Expected First-Time Vote Delta by Electoral District — 2019 Sri Lankan Presidential Election

Concluding Thoughts

My main conclusion is that there is very little data to say anything quantitative about first-time voters.



Articles on Politics, and Political Science, by Nuwan I. Senaratna

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Nuwan I. Senaratna

I am a Computer Scientist and Musician by training. A writer with interests in Philosophy, Economics, Technology, Politics, Business, the Arts and Fiction.