Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Rule 49-O, The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961

A lot of anger has built up in the general public due to the unfortunate events of last week, and hopefully this time we the people will channel our anger and frustrations to create something that is productive and beneficial to the greater good of the nation.

I have seen Rule 49-O crop up in many such discussions. I have also heard that election agents and officers are never prepared for the use of this law. We need to spread awareness of this option and if enough people ask for it, the authorities will have to allow us to use this option.

For those who do not know, here the actual rule:

49-O. Elector deciding not to vote.-If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.

What this rule effectively says is that enough people decide to say none of the above, there has to be a re-election in that constituency and none of the candidates are allowed to contest the immediate re-election as they have all been rejected.

However, the problems arise due to the fact that the electronic voting machines and ballot papers (in case of municipal/panchayat elections) do not contain any facility to reject the candidates under Rule 49-O. The only way you can exercise this rule is by informing the presiding officer of the electoral booth. Unfortunately this takes away your right to a secret ballot and in our country can put you in trouble with the politicians who you have decided to reject.

If enough people are made aware and a strong representation is presented to the Election Commission, they will have to consider including an option which allows us, the people to vote for "None of the Above".

So please spread the word to as many people as you want. Write to the Election Commission in advance on how you may exercise your rights under Rule 49-O. Perhaps they will pay heed to the people.

For more info:

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your comments are extremely unfortunate. At a time when we have to reinforce our faith in democracy and strengthen our democratic process, you are trying to subvert our democracy by encouraging people not to vote.

I will take you to court for spreading disaffection against the democratic process and trying to subvert the elections that are taking place currently and all future elections.

Stop spreading disaffection immediately and apologize to all your readers and the rest of this nation's citizenry. If you dont... people are watching... and you know how angry they are at this moment.

Gopi said...

Check this: http://techlawindia.com/2007/12/the-rule-49-o-email/

There's no re-poll. It just notes someone didn't vote even after having come to the polling station.

jbourne said...

Atlantean,

1) 49-O is part of the democratic law of our country. Using it cannot amount to subverting the process since it is part of the process.

2) Using 49-O does not mean that people are not voting - it is an option to go against all the candidates.

3) It is in fact a tool to strengthen the democratic process by rejecting the current candidates if there is no good choice. If enough people think that that is the case what is the harm in a re-election with new candidates?

An Indian said...

@Atlantean:

Rejecting all the candidates is not the same as not turning out to vote.

If you exercise your right under rule 49-O you are informing the Election Commission that you do not consider any of the candidates worthy of representing your constituency.

If rule 49-O attracts more votes than any of the candidates in the election then it means that a re-election has to held and the same people cannot contest again.

This is not subverting democracy, this is exercising your right to say you reject all the candidates put forth by the political parties.

So please read what I am saying before casting me as the destroyer of democracy.

An Indian said...

@Gopi: The unfortunate situation is that the electoral authorities do not come prepared for the situation where a voter may choose to exercise rule 49-O.

I have been informed that a voter tried to exercise this rule in a recent election, however he was told that there was no such arrangement available at the voting booth.

This is why people need to be made aware of this rule and must demand that they be allowed to use this rule during an election if they so choose.