The ‘No-Vote’ option would not be available in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) for the civic polls, the Central Election Commission (CEC) and State Election Commission (SEC) informed the Bombay high court on Monday. A division bench of justice DD Sinha and justice VK Tahilramani was hearing a PIL filed by Thane doctor Mahesh Bedekar, seeking to maintain the privacy of people choosing not to vote for any candidate. An affidavit filed by chief electoral officer Debasish Chakrabarty before the high court stating that the Election Commission of India had considered the issue of providing a separate ‘None of the above’ panel in the EVMs.
“Two letters, dated December 10, 2001, and July 5, 2004, were sent to the Government of India and Union Ministry of Law and Judiciary, asking them to consider the same and make amendments in the law,” states the affidavit.
But, there has been no reply, states the affidavit. “Until these recommendations are acted upon and there is an amendment in the law, it will not be possible to include the ‘None of the above’ panel in EVMs.”
Sachin Shetye, advocate for SEC, said that in wards outside Mumbai, where more than one candidate was to be elected, voters had the option of pressing two buttons. “In case the voter does not want to elect a second candidate, he has to press the ‘End’ button after casting his vote once. Only then will the EVM be ready for the next voter.”
This is a way of opting for a ‘No-Vote’ for the second candidate. An order to this effect was passed by the SEC on December 5, 2011, and accordingly technical changes have been made in EVMs.