Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Option E: None of the Above

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.



What an experience - enough to put you off voting. But I am glad you waited patiently and did it as you wished. In a way you were fortunate because you were able to use the 'O' podu provision :)
Here in Chennai, according to the newspapers, several people were not allowed to for the simple reason that the polling officials did not know that such a provision existed.

Rakesh Vanamali said...

The best choice one can make is to caste a vote for the best among the worst! Truly we do not have another option!

Thanks for a lucid illustration!

Kamini said...

I admire your persistence - even if things did not work out quite how you wanted them to. Several times, I have voted for a particular candidate not because I wanted to, but as an anti other candidate vote, which is not really true to the spirit of democracy. This provision 49-0, properly implemented, is by far the better solution.

kallu said...

Raji, Thanks. I did ask a few officials who didnt understand and finally had to approach the chief man.
O podrathu nalla thaan irunthathu :-))

kallu said...

Rakesh, Its a tough choice -whether to vote for the best of the worst or to disdain them all.
Long illustration because I didnt know anything about this provision until now. And I thought maybe there are many people out there like me.

kallu said...

Kamini, thanks. One is never sure in these difficult situations whether we have acted right. But there being no absolute right, we just do our best for that moment. And our best changes with time.

Happy Kitten said...

I think you did the right thing.. the voters need to have an option to reject the candidates, else they are just thrust upon you..

kallu said...

Thank you , Happy Kitten.

Maddy said...

new template looks good. there must be something else one can do to these corrupt politicians. how on earth can people support them?

kallu said...

Thanks Maddy.
Rahul Gandhi and the new young congress are being touted so much! But real changes we will have to wait and see.
Do we really deserve the kind of govts we have?

Raghu Menon said...

The corruption in politics is deep routed and one can see that money played an important rule in this election. In Pondicherry, voters were paid Rs.100 per vote and that too from both the main contestants. It is becoming worse. The 49-O is a relief and if this is available on the voting machine itself, that will be a real eye opener for these corrupt politicians. Now, the identity of those who opt for 49-O is traceable and can be harassed by the politicians. This should change. Let us hope so..