October 17th, 2011
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To vote or not to vote

no vote option Coimbatore: On Monday when the first phase of the civic polls gets underway in Tamil Nadu, a majority of the voters would remain ignorant of the fact that if they are disgruntled with all contestants, they can choose not to vote and register the same.The voters can’t be blamed for it. Rather, the State Election Commission has been unenthusiastic in creating awareness on the voters’ right to not vote.

During the assembly elections of April the Election Commission of India had adequately publicised the ‘49-O’ provision of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, under which electors can register a ‘No Vote’ option.

However, for the civic polls, the State Election Commission has failed to create awareness on ‘Rule 71’ of the Tamil Nadu Town Panchayats,  Third Grade Municipalities and Municipal Corporation Councils (Elections) Rules 2006, which entails voters to record a ‘No Vote’ in the poll register. The Rule says: “If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of elector in Form 21 and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under rule 68 decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 21 by the Presiding Officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.” An official acknowledged that adequate publicity  has not been given for this provision.  “Polling officials were just informed of this provision without emphasis,” the poll  official said on condition of anonymity.

Coimbatore District Collector M Karunakaran said in urban local bodies where Electronic Voting Machines are being used, the voters who prefer not to vote, would be required to mention it in the voters’ register after informing polling booth officials.  “Voters in rural areas where ballot papers are being used can also follow a similar procedure,” the collector said.


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