Demand for reject-all button on EVMs

The Sehajdhari Sikh Party (SSP) has demanded that electronic voting machines (EVMs) during all elections, including the February 23 Moga assembly bypoll in Punjab, should have a separate button for rejection of all candidates.

In a letter to the Election Commission of India on Monday, party president Paramjeet Singh Ranu said the current reject-all provision under Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961 - as per which an elector has to declare in the register of voters (Form 17A) the intent to not cast his vote for anyone - amounts to violation of the secrecy of ballot.

"This Form 17A is a physical form and the signature of a voter is obtained therein... This means anybody can know that which voters abstained. After the elections, such voters can face harassment," he said, adding that the law can be enforced practically only if the voting machine possesses a special button for the purpose of rejection that will maintain secrecy.

The party claims to represent Sehajdhari Sikhs, that is, Sikhs who do not possess unshorn hair as per tenets of the Khalsa Panth.


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