Friday, April 21, 2006

O Podu !

Election fever is sweeping Tamil Nadu with two major electoral combines and smaller parties reeling out promises. Most parties have released their manifestos and the lists of candidates for the May 8 Assembly elections.
It is now time for the voters to weigh the merits and demerits of the candidates. Suggestions have been made to make voting compulsory.
But if the electors decide that none of the candidates is worth their vote, can they officially register their decision?
Yes, says the Election Commission.
Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta said on Monday that some non-governmental organisations wanted the option of "negative voting" by providing an extra button in the electronic voting machines that says "none of the above" clause.
Though there was no scope for negative voting now, as the issue is before the Supreme Court, there were provisions for electors to register their decision not to vote.
According to Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, if an elector whose roll number has been entered in the register of electoral rolls in Form 17A, decides not to vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry by the Presiding Officer and the signature and thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark, he said.
Officers to be sensitised
All Returning Officers, Assistant Returning Officers, Presiding Officers and Polling Officers would be sensitised to the provisions, he said.
Catalyst Trust, an NGO, had requested the Election Commission to publicise this provision. However, adequate security would have to be provided for such brave voters, an observer said.



'O' Podu "O Podu" is a social awareness movement.
"O PODU' means "cast the vote". Voting is both the right and duty of thepeople. Another objective of our movement is to make people aware of theirconstitutional right to cast their vote under section 49 'O'.
On an average, in every election, nearly 45 percent of the eligible votersdon't vote at all. Therefore even if a winning candidate bags 30 percent ofthe polled votes, it amounts to getting the support of only about 16 percentof the total electorate. If more and more non voters begin to exercise theirvote, the result of many elections would drastically change.
Why are many people not voting at all? One of the usual reasons cited isthat they are unable to accept any candidate and don't want to vote foranyone of the available candidates.
It is a unique feature of our Indian constitution that it has provided thelegal right to the voter to reject all the candidates. Section 49 'O' of theElection rules 1961, has empowered the voter with this right. This sectionhas conferred the right to the voter to inform the booth officer, after theindelible ink mark has been marked, that the voter does not want to vote forany of the candidates. The section requires the booth officer to record thevoter's choice of 49 'O'.
"O PODU" movement will campaign for the following demands:
1. Every voter should cast the vote. Failure to cast the vote only preventsenhancement of the standards of politics.
2. If the voter feels all the candidates are unworthy, the best ay tocommunicate this view to the political parties is not through abstinence.The best method is to record this view through 49 'O'.
3. Secrecy of ballot is a right conferred on the voter by the Constitution.But the election commission's procedure of not keeping 49 'O' voting assecretive, amounts to a violation of this right. Therefore the Electioncommission should rectify this anomaly by introducing a separate button for49 'O' in the electronic voting machines, for the forthcoming Tamilnaduelections.
4. It is the duty of the Election commission to educate the booth officersabout the availability of 49 'O while conducting classes to them on pollingprocedures. The present practice of booth officers expressing ignoranceabout 49 'O' and refusing a vote to record under 49 'O' should be totallyeliminated.'
"O PODU" movement will campaign among voters, particularly the youth,seeking support for the above demands, by use of posters, pamphlets,meetings, T shirt messages, e mails and SMS.



1 comment:

Yoge said...

Instead people casted votes to vijayakanth party.