The Indian voter has an option to say ’I don’t wish to vote for any of these candidates’.
If you are dissatisfied with the candidates on offer in your constituency and think they don’t deserve your vote; then by provision 49- O, you can go to the polling booth, confirm your identity, get your finger marked and tell the electoral officer that you don’t wish to vote.
Recently, a campaign has spread awareness of this rule through mail and SMS and pamphlets. See this link to know more about the campaign in North India.
To strengthen the case for voting 49-O, the mails say that if the number of '49-O' votes polled are more than those of the winning candidate, then the poll will be cancelled and re-polling done. Furthermore, the contestants will be banned from the re-polling for their life times.
Unfortunately, this is not true. 49-O is merely a rule for negative or neutral voting.The exact Rule can be found here.
When I first heard about 49-O, I thought what a waste of public money! to hold a re-election. We might as well make the best choice of whatever ( or whoever) is available to us.
But, last night when I went through the list of candidates for our constituency, I was stumped to come up with the right or best candidate. Of the candidates from the three major parties, one is corrupt, one is terribly terribly corrupt and the third has 3 criminal cases pending against him. None of them are from our district. The remaining dozen people are absolutely unknown. What chances do they have on a national footing?
So I thought I would use the 49- O option. Not an easy decision to make or execute. First, I queued up in a booth with early birds all going off to work. Then they couldn’t match my voter ID. I was sent off to the party people to find my number. This took 45 minutes and I was escorted back to a different booth by our ex-Councillor who was happy to use this opportunity to spew abuses on the ruling party/govt. for the poor organization of voter lists.
After all the trouble he took, I was a little loath to turn in a null vote. But I did say “ I want to use the 49- O" loudly enough to create a furor. At first no one understood my request, then the chief officer made me sign in a book and wrote ‘Refused to vote’ which has made me rather sad.