Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mandatory voting move infuriates RWAs

Mandatory voting move infuriates RWAs

Sunitha Rao R. Bangalore



Chief minister BS Yeddyurappa has ordered a detailed study on voter apathy in the recent BBMP elections and is mulling over making voting mandatory. But active residents' welfare associations (RWAs) in the city have raised a voice of dissent.
NS Mukunda, president of Citizens Action Forum (CAF) on Tuesday said that the chief minister's statement was unconstitutional. "It is a democracy. The chief minister cannot impose mandates like compulsory franchise of votes. There is a provision in the election rules where a voter can reject all the candidates. Section 49(0) of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, must be implemented," Mukunda said.
Section 49(0) allows a person to go to a polling booth, register his/her presence by signing and then not vote for any candidate. Such votes are recorded by the presiding officer and are considered rejection of all candidates in the fray.
Mukunda said there was a necessity to update and cleanse the voters' list. "It is a systemic failure, which has added to poor voter response. Errors on the list keep voters away," he said.
Mukunda's name itself was missing from the voters' list though he has voted several times and holds an EPIC card. "I had cross-checked the list long back and submitted a Form 6 twice to the BBMP official concerned. Through constant queries and follow ups I made sure that my name was included on the list and that I could vote," Mukunda said.
On Thursday, the CAF and RWA members had an informal meeting with core members. "We are going to support RWA members who will contest the assembly election," Mukunda said, adding that lack of good candidates also affected the voter turnout.
"Only 15 wards had RWA members contesting the poll, who were educated candidates. The rest of the wards suffered from lack of worthy candidates. The CAF had met all major political parties before the election asking them to field educated, capable candidates. But they shunned us," Mukunda said.

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