An activist has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay high court seeking directions to include a new panel for the negative vote on Electronic Voting Machines ( EVMs).
Dr Mahesh Bedekar feels this will allow voters to voice their dissent about the candidate or the party through the ballot. “Under the present election rules, a voter who does not want to cast his ballot to the listed candidates can do so by filling up form 17 A of the Election Commission. The presiding officer has to be requested to issue the said form and the voter can record his negative vote in the presence of the election staff. It is contrary to rules which provide for absolute secrecy in voting,” Dr Bedekar said.
He added, “A voter who fills up form 17 A reveals his identity to all persons, including activists of various political parties, who sit inside the polling stations. The voter could be in danger for exercising his right to no vote.”
Dr Bedekar, a noted gynaecologist, added, the low voter turnout indicates the growing unease among citizens towards the candidates in the fray and political parties. “Average voting is around 40% to 45%. One of the reasons is people do not have faith or trust in the system. Though the polling day is declared a public holiday, the voter turnout is unimpressive. It is largely because voters are unable to express their disapproval of the candidates or the parties, in the absence of secrecy in negative voting,” he said.