Advani pitches for NOTA, compulsory voting

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New Delhi, October 6:  Welcoming the recent Supreme Court verdict on giving the voters the option of registering negative voting (none of the above — NOTA), senior BJP leader L.K. Advani has said that the measure will be meaningful only if it is accompanied by compulsory voting.

Writing on his blog, Mr. Advani said the Election Commission could convene a meeting of all political parties, after providing them, on the one hand, the text of the Supreme Court judgment, and on the other, a comprehensive report on the laws and rules in 31 countries where such a provision existed in one form or another, to initiate a purposeful debate on the issue.

BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has also advocated compulsory voting. Responding to the apex court verdict, he has said that a draft bill twice approved by the State Assembly for the introduction of compulsory voting in local bodies’ election is awaiting the assent of the Governor.

The Election Commission has set in motion the process of negative voting in the coming elections in five States.

On his blog, Mr. Advani contended that as things stood, voters, who without any legitimate justification were not exercising the valuable right of franchise the Constitution had conferred on them, had unwittingly thus been casting a negative vote against all contesting candidates without intending to do so.

Mr. Advani said there were as many as 31 countries whose laws provided for some kind of compulsory voting system, though details of these laws were such that observers felt that it was only one dozen of these that actually enforced compulsory voting by having deterrent provisions for citizens who failed to vote without any justified reason.

The Supreme Court judgement mentioned seven countries — France, Belgium, Brazil, Greece, Chile, Bangladesh and Ukraine — and one State of the U.S. — Nevada — where the ballot paper given to voters or EVMs had the NOTA option. “What I regard as significant is the fact that out of the seven countries that have given the electors the NOTA option, the first five listed by me, namely, France, Belgium, Brazil, Greece and Chile, have compulsory voting also,” he said.

The BJP veteran noted that the remaining countries having some sort of compulsory voting arrangement were Austria, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, Gabon, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Nauru, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland (Province of Schaffhausen), Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay.

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