Would you be tempted to go out and vote on February 16 if a 'None of the above' option was available on the voting machine? Citizens' group Action for good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI), thinks so.
AGNI and Association for Democratic Reforms have intervened in support of the Public Interest Litigation filed in September 2011 by Dr Mahesh Bedekar, a gynaecologist from Thane, to incorporate this option on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), and have issued an appeal to the State Election Commission (SEC).
"The court hearing on January 25 corresponds with National Voters' Day. We have appealed to the SEC to gift voters the 'None of the above' alternative," said Sharad Kumar, trustee, AGNI.
"Even if a majority of the voters select this option, the candidate winning the most number of votes would be announced elected. It is just a matter of providing an extra button on EVMs that would help the voter express his/her disagreement on the quality of candidates," he added.
Referring to the 2007 Supreme Court order that facilitated the installation of Braille on EVMs to uphold the secrecy principle for the visually challenged, Kumar said: "Currently, if you do not wish to register your vote for any candidate, you have to sign a document after your name is ticked on the voters' list. Secrecy is not maintained".
Countries like Spain, Bangladesh and Greece, and the US state of Nevada, have the negative voting option on ballots. In India, chief election commissioner SY Quraishi proposed this option in 2009 but no decision has been taken on it yet.