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NOTA - Not a Silver Bullet for decaying democracy

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NOTA - Not a silver bullet enlightened

 

 

Election Commission of India has notified that during the forthcoming Leigislative Assembly elections of 5 States Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be provided with an additional button that facilitates a Voter to exercise 'None Of The Above' (NOTA) candidates, under Election Rules 49(O) so that he may express his displeasure about the candidates contesting an election.  

But NOTA cannot be considered as the Silver Bullet for improving the present decaying political system. In fact, NOTA is likely to create more confusions in the minds of the voters, particularly in rural areas where there is rampant illiteracy and knowledge about 49(O) is almost Nil.  Therefore, before implementing NOTA button in EVMs, following important issues need to be clarified:  

(1) If there are hundred voters and 90 of them exercise NOTA option, what will be the intrinsic value of such votes, will they be treated as 'invalid' votes because it tantamount to 'not voting at all' under the meaning of the word 'Election'? 

(2) If, of the remaining 10 voters, six of them cast their votes in favor of a particular candidate, will he be declared as the winner under the existing 'first past the post' election rules?

(3) The above leads to a unhealthy position that the candidate who has just got six voters' support will rule over the rest of 94 voters?  Will this be correct since it will be gross minority voters rule?  

(4) If these 90 per cent NOTA vote are to be treated as valid and become majority, then will there be re-election?   What if the same candidates contest in the re-elections also?  If they are to be barred, then will it not violate the constitutional provisions under Rights?

(5) If NOTA votes are to be treated as valid votes, will the Election Commission enact necessary amendments to the  Election Rules/ Peoples Representation Act etc., before enabling EVMs? 

(6) If a re-election is to be conducted based on 90 percent NOTA negative votes, will it not result in incurring huge additional expenditure just to get NOTA votes?  People will have to pay more taxes to meet this additional expenditure and also such frequent elections are bound to create lot of inconvenience for people.

      In view of the above confusions and also because NOTA will not really bring about participatory democracy or majority voters rule, it would be better if Supreme Court orders that the 13 electoral reforms recommended by successive Chief Election Commissioners and pending with the Government since 1998, be taken up within the framework of the laws of the land and implemented for ensuring better political governance before the next elections are scheduled including Lok Sabha elections in 2014. Details of pending reforms can be seen at Link: http://eci.nic.in/eci_main/electoral_ref.pdf.   

In addition, other electoral reforms suggested below may also be considered to ensure clean political management system in our country:

a)   Make voting compulsory either by incentivising voters for having voted or with levying a fine for willfully neglecting to exercise their franchise.
b)   Prescribe Minimum and Maximum age limits.
c)   Prescribe minimum educational qualification
d)   Introduce online voting system (Vote from where you are) with the help of Aadhaar's bio-metric parameters and help citizens to overcome the hassles of registration of names in electoral rolls and visiting number of booths for voting.
e)   Introduce 'Recall' facility, if an elected representative is found to indulge himself in party hopping for the sake of remaining in power, corrupt practices for the lure of lucre and for having indulged in immoral affairs/activities while in office.
f)    Prescribe an affidavit containing all the above undertakings to be filed during submission of nomination and
g)   Prescribe a minimum of Rs.10 lakhs as security deposit to be forfeited if a minimum of 25 per cent of votes of a constituency are not secured by the candidate.

If these reforms are implemented, if necessary by amending the Constitution of India, Peoples Representation Act, Election Rules etc., we can expect to rectify the dubious distinction of 'India is governed by a flawed democracy'.

 

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