TAMIL NADU VOTES PHASE 1: MAY 8
Wanna reject all candidates? Press O button
- G.C. Shekhar, Chennai
Ohpodu was a hit Tamil film song a few years ago. Today, it is also a voting movement that gives you a choice – vote or register your displeasure over the choice of candidates under a constitutional provision.
“Voting is both the right and duty of the people. Another objective of our movement is to make people aware of their constitutional right to cast their vote under section 49 ‘O’. On an average, in every election, nearly 45 per cent of the eligible voters don’t vote at all. Even if a win ning candidate bags 30 per cent of the polled votes, it amounts to getting the support of only about 16 per cent of the electorate.
If more and more non-voters begin to exercise their vote, the result of many elections would drastically change,” pointed out Gnani Sankaran, writer and social activist who has floated this organisation on the eve of the Assembly elections.
Since most non-voters blame their inability to accept any candidate and don’t want to vote for any of the contesting candidates the organisation urges such people to use their legal right to reject all the candidates.
Section 49 ‘O’ of the election rules 1961 has conferred the right to the voter to inform the booth officer, after the indelible ink mark has been marked, that the voter does not want to vote for any of the candidates.
The section requires the booth officer to record the voter’s choice of 49 ‘O’.
The organisation has urged the election commission to give a separate button on the EVM for this purpose. The booth officers should also be educated about this legal facility available to the voters, Sankaran said.
Members of Ohpodu distributed pamphlets at Chennai’s mofussil bus stand today and would be expanding their awareness campaign to other parts of the state as well. Voters can also access their website ohpodu.org.
(This article was published in Hindustan Times - 08/04/2006)
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