January 31, 2009 5:42:40 pm
Political parties are opposing a provision for a ‘none of the above’ option on Electronic Voting Machines (EVM),Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswami said in Mumbai on Saturday.
“By asking for the option,you (people) have raised hackles of political parties,” Gopalaswami said at a seminar on electoral and political reforms.
Referring to the demand for a re-poll and barring candidates who contested the poll from re-contesting in case a majority of voters opt for the ‘none of the above’ option,the CEC said,”Maybe,there is a perception,which may come true.”
“That (option) could be a problem. They are already feeling it is a problem. That is why they are not wanting to let change take place,” Gopalaswami who is to demit office on April 20,said.
The CEC said under the current system the secrecy of vote for those who are not willing to cast their ballots is “compromised”.
“Earlier,you had a ballot paper. If you didn’t want to vote,you got into the voting compartment,didn’t mark the ballot paper with rubber stamp,put the paper in the box and came out,” he said.
“Now,for the purpose of accounting for total votes polled,you are asked to sign in the register if you don’t want to vote. This is necessary because if there are 550 voters,the official has to say that 549 voted and the one who did not vote,his name is in the register. That means the secrecy of the vote is compromised. Therefore we have been insisting that please provide a button for a person who doesn’t want to vote. But we didn’t ask for ‘none of the above’,” the CEC said.
“We have been insisting that please provide a button on EVM for a person who doesn’t want to vote so that his secrecy is not compromised,” Gopalaswami said.
The CEC said the ‘none of the above’ option was also stuck on a technical issue. “The right to vote is not a fundamental right,therefore if you want to challenge the issue under Article 32 of the Constitution,it has got to be on the matter of fundamental rights,” he added.
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