The no-vote option: Will Indians ever exercise it?

April 17, 2009

Democracy is all about choice and there have been calls to introduce a “none of the above” option in electronic voting machines so that guardians of the election process in the world’s largest democracy can reject candidates who don’t pass muster.

And if this is likely to get sucked into political wrangling – the fate of most pertinent issues in India – some say the Election Commission (EC), political activists and those urging the “sleeping population to wake up and vote” should  advertise the virtues of Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Elections Rules, which allows you to register your disapproval.

A peek into the election rulebook reveals the following about 49-O: “Elector deciding not to vote – If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.”

The issue is the subject of debate on several websites and blogs.

Another website is running a signature campaign urging people to vote in favour of a “no vote” option.

Reports say the EC is in favour of such a provision, but is not empowered to implement it. The authority lies with the Centre which must amend the Representation of the People Act for the change to be incorporated.

The country began voting in the first stage of a staggered general election on Thursday. The outcome of the month-long five-stage poll, which will see hundreds of candidates in the fray for 543 Lok Sabha seats, will be known on May 16.

Polls indicate the ruling Congress party is most likely to return to power, but this time heading a weaker coalition.

The Indian electorate seldom has a say in a political party’s choice of a local representative. Reports say around a quarter of the elected Lok Sabha MPs had criminal cases pending against them in 2004.

More than half of the cases were for serious offences including murder, rape and large-scale corruption.

A majority of these leaders are contesting the elections this time and many say it will only be fair if discerning citizens, queuing up outside the over 800,000 makeshift polling booths, are given a chance to say “No, I will not vote”.

12 comments

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The concept is not all a bad one but do we really need it. I mean if u really do not wanna vote for any cadidate how it matters in large extent, But yes it impact and make news for Media News Channel and blogger. Wasey To caste a vote is the only right way rather than Donot vote kind of idea…

Still with a proper concept and meaningfull in true sense not in sense of socialist and this media but for whom it really helps People of country…

Not a hot cake prime time issue for Media..

Posted by Amit Daga | Report as abusive

Sidhartha: No-Vote is not really a good idea…Please have a look at this post:

http://satyameva-jayate.org/2009/04/14/n one-of-the-above/

Yes there should be right to reject candidature of idiots who are in system to rot the nation

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

I totally agree with this concept and it should be implemented.People of different opinions are ther and everuy indian national should be made aware of this voting excersise

It is urgently required… It might be the only way out to have a lot of cleaner politicians… I feel it should also come with something like re-election where there are more then 50% no-vote and banning of all listed candidates in the constituency in the next re-election. If the election is the only time when the politicians listen to the people, then we should have the right to say them “get the hell out of here”

Posted by Dipankar | Report as abusive

Implementing the concept of no-vote is required as it will help the citizens express their dissatisfaction with the current lot of politicians. But where would we go from there? Would the next lot of politicians be any better? How long will the voters exercise this option before giving in to the what they perceive as the lesser evil and avoiding a hung government?

What is more important is identifying, grooming and supporting the kind of candidates we want to vote for. The no-vote option can only be a stop gap arrangement.

Posted by Shruti | Report as abusive

Who should we vote for? why should be vote? they all want to come to power just to fill their own pockets. they have nothing to do with THE ISSUES BOTHERING THE COMMON MAN!!! they are providing with Z SECURITY where the common man dies in bomb blast, road accident. currently we are living in fear and NONE OF THEM HAVE ANY SOLUTION. no one is capable of stopping terrorism…disgusting!! Aamir Khan says “if we do not want to vote in favour of one, we should vote against him/her.” But i want to ask him, by voting against one aren’t we voting in favour of another. how will that make any difference when they all think alike. WE SHOULD NOT MAKE ANY MISTAKE THIS TIME. PEOPLE, BRING THE REVOLUTION…WE HAVE GOT THE CHANCE. THINK twice before casting your precious vote.

Posted by Nishi | Report as abusive

We will vote for 49 O because we want to send a message to politicians that we will no longer accept the corrupt and inefficient as our leaders.

More than 260 million people do not vote in elections. Even if 1% of them were to vote for 49 O, it will send shivers among the politicians.

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i m fed up of this netas i so angry tht they shld be hanged by civilians becoz yeh humara khun choos rahe hain
innhe bas besharam hokar 5 saal baad logon se attach hote hai vote ke liye usske baad gayab hojate hai innhe toh nuclear bomb se uddado taki unke guards unhe doctor paas na le jaaye isse he mera aur humara desh taraki karega bas ek baar koi faithful insan aajaye joh desh ki dubti kamar ko bachale ,
yahaan har koi neta paisa banane mein laga pada hai bjp congress sab thakele hai n mare hue hai agar mein chahu toh yeh sabko goli se udddu lekin humara constitution bhi mera saath nahin dega
yeh desh zero hi rahega kuch bhi taraki karlo lekin jabtak jaati aur dharam yeh desh ko le dubega dekhlena
mera pyaaara desh aise logon ke haath mein jo paisa ke liye desh ko bechde
issliye mein apna kimti waqt barbaad nahin karna chahata
NO VOTE FOR ANY MARE HUE BJP YA CONGRESS KE LIYE

Posted by Ricx | Report as abusive

With such high rates of criminals contesting, vote-bank politics and oppurtunit politicians running the country, the no-Vote choice is strong signal to the beauracracy. V r not happy with the political set-up. By 10 years i believe the no-votes would cross 50% of electoral votes and the country would be on the verge of a revolution, its best the beuracracy prepares for such a situation and reform the constitution under emergency. I would propose a tri-party system based on ideals, interests and policies as leftist, rightist and centerist parties, and the rest being independents. This way the country would also have a hedge against political instability caused by regional parties and coalitions.

Posted by Benith | Report as abusive

has any one here actually exercised the option of voting for “none of the above”…?

if yes how exactly did u do it..

or is this still a provision in law and not yet enacted\implemented\displayed in the EVMs

Posted by rony | Report as abusive

this is seriously needed 2 b done.n these votes should be counted as valid ones….

Posted by pavneet | Report as abusive