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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Negative voting is positive for India

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With a plethora of happenings in last week that included the Republic Day celebrations and Mangalore attacks on women, the Indian media has hardly covered the issue of negative voting. Considering that the general elections are just round the corner, it is both surprising and shameful that media hasn’t given the issue its due importance so far and has instead been concentrating on issues like moral policing. This is not to suggest that issue is not important but a 'negative vote' can bring about much larger changes in our society.

Govt. of India has dismissed the recent suggestion of the Election commission of India as a part of the proposed electoral reforms, to give a negative voting option in the Electronic voting machines. There is a petition filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties(PUCL) in 2005, before the Supreme Court seeking implementation of the proposed reforms of ECI. Opposing this PIL, the Govt. has argued that unlike freedom of speech and expression, voting is just a statutory right. Govt. even goes on to say that such an option is not healthy for democracy. (Source)

What is negative voting?

Negative voting is a privilege that allows the voters to reject all the candidates that are in fray. As per the present provisions of the Indian Constitution, a voter who seeks vote for none any of the candidates has give this in writing to the presiding officer giving in the reasons for doing so. The problem with this is that it is against the concept of secret ballot. Moreover it is a little cumbersome. Hence, most of the educated youth disgruntled with the political system, prefer to enjoy a holiday at home on the Election Day.

In a way they are right. The falling standards of the politicians of India hardly offer any hope and option. We have the likes of Pappu Yadav, , Taslimuddin , Mohd. Shahbuddin and many more representing the electrorate. Sanjay Dutt, who has been convicted in the 1993 Mumbai Blasts, is going to fight election from Lucknow. He may have done a lot for poor; he may have become popular particularly after the Munnabhai, but the fact remains that he is responsible for the loss of several hundred lives.

In the just concluded in Kashmir, the voter turnout was over 60%. Is this an indication of the rejection of the demand of azaadi? If experts are to be believed, the answer is a blunt no. People of the state need electricity, jobs and water and that’s what they have voted. If there was an election that included a negative voting option, surely a large number of people would have used this option. The story of the rest of the country isn’t too much different with people hardly having any confidence in the system. Some of my friends from UP say tell me how every elections they have to decide who is the lesser evil between SP and the BSP.

In such a scenario, the negative voting option has the potential to bring about large scale changes to the overall political system just like the way RTI is bringing about changes in our bureaucracy. But Governments stand on this issue is pretty much on expected lines. All political parties have resisted any major electoral reforms. For example, there is no institutional method of political funding. The recent case where over 2 crores Rs. was missing from the BJP office. Yet, there wasn’t any police complaint registered by the party. It will be naive to suggest that BJP is the only party which uses unfair means to get political funding.

Entities around the world that include "None of the Above" on ballots as standard procedure include the U.S. state of Nevada (None of These Candidates), Ukraine (Against all), Spain (voto en blanco), France (vote blanc), Colombia (voto en blanco), the United States Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Florida affiliate of the American Patriot Party, and the Debian Project.Russia had such an option on its ballots (Against all) until it was abolished in 2006. (Source)

Our politicians may take great pride in calling India as the largest democracy; the same pride is however missing from the electorate. Please join me in signing of the online petition.


  1. hi good post..

    I also believe negative voting should be introduced...
    You may find my similar ideas at

  2. Ask anyone,except a politician and the answer will be that we should have negative voting, yes we should. But who is WE?We have surrendered ourselves to non-performing,selfish and corrupt political class who decides our actions and fate.In a recent interview Mr Haresh Salve correctly said that now we are all subjects and they are the rulers.