Topics: Elections, Democracy, Voting Pages: 3 (1002 words) Published: September 3, 2014
When it comes to democratic societies, where voting is an affirmation of one’s freedom and equality, and is the cornerstone of democracy, the freedom to abstain from making a choice is often missing. Citizens are given the freedom to vote for any candidate standing for elections, but few democracies give voters the explicit right to reject all the candidates, if they find no one suitable. In effect, citizens are given the freedom to choose but not to withhold making a choice With the coming of electronic voting machines (EVMs), it was not even possible for voters to invalidate their votes by scratching out ballots or voting for two candidates. The only way to ensure that the vote is not wasted on an undeserving candidate was to not participate in the elections. As a result, Indian democracy has suffered from lower voting turnouts and growing dissatisfaction with the quality of candidates contesting elections. In the 2009 general elections, only 58% of registered voters cast their ballots, as against a high of 63% a quarter of a century ago. However, Indian voters going to the polls now have a new choice available to them: “none of the above (NOTA)”. The voters will not have to stand out of elections or invalidate their votes, or vote reluctantly to reject candidates. If a large number of people in a given constituency vote for “none of the above” then it sends a clear message to all political parties that the electorate does not find candidates fielded by them suitable, and rejects the brand of politics practiced by them. NOTA may also encourage more citizens to participate in elections as they can vote and have their votes counted, even if they did not select any candidate. It allows them to fulfil their civic responsibility with a clean conscience. India may have a multi-party democratic system. But one thing that voters find in common to all parties is the overarching role of crime, connections and money. Increasing criminalisation of politics,...
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