Yaishwaryaj Seva Sansthan kickstarts Voter Awareness Drive for upcomin
Ram Prakash | 26 Jan 2012

The voter awareness initiative was titled 'Hundred percent turnout by conscious voter. Corruption buster.' Was inaugurated by the veteran social activist Ram Swaroop Yadav. The campaign is Yaishwaryaj Seva Sansthan's endeavor to sensitize voters about the importance of voting to ensure a responsive, accountable and democratically elected government.

SPEAKING ON the occasion Urvashi Sharma, Secretary of Yaishwaryaj Seva Sansthan said that there has been a declining trend in voters participation over the decades which is somewhere around 55-60 per cent in the past few elections. There had been gaps in not just registration but also in participation in elections.

The voter awareness initiative  titled "Hundred percent turnout by conscious voter , that's the only
Corruption buster."  Was inaugurated by the veteran social activist Ram Swaroop Yadav. The campaign is Yaishwaryaj Seva Sansthan‘s  endeavor to sensitize voters about the importance of voting to ensure a responsive, accountable and democratically elected government. There were children from nearby schools , not yet eligible to vote but were ready to spread the word on the need to exercise that right, and do so wisely. These children will contribute to the forthcoming  elections in a unique way by asking their family members to move out to vote .

“We are planning to gather  information on candidates from disclosures made in their affidavits regarding assets, educational qualification and criminal background, if any and then share these with the voters . Yaishwaryaj is utilizing youth power & children i.e. the next generation and the future with it.We are  makeing voters aware that they are the masters and should ask questions from the candidates instead of being swayed by demagoguery and caste or communal factors. We are highlighting the doublespeak of the political parties which take high moral ground when they speak on the issue of corruption but in practice give tickets to corrupt and criminal elements. Our campaign is  apolitical and against corruption ” told Urvashi.

Speaking on the occasion Social activist Prabhuta said that Voting is compulsory by law in Australia.Russia allows voters to vote "against all" candidates.India has Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 of India only which says  “If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark”.After the voter’s electoral number has been entered in the register and he has been identified, his signature/thumb impression is against his name in the voters list. The voter then approaches the presiding officer and informs him of his decision not to vote in favor of any of the candidates. The officer makes an entry namely “Refused to Vote” against the name of this voter in the list. Both the officer and the voter have to provide a signature/thumb impression against this entry. The numbers of such entries have to be mandatorily recorded in Form 17-A. ECI has directed that the entries should be compiled and recorded (Item 3, Part-I of Form 17C) constituency wise and sent to the Commission.

This information may also be obtained through RTI. She elaborated the disadvantages of rule 49-O for the elector i.e. Secrecy of the ballot is violated as the voter has to inform the presiding officer and an entry is made against his name in the voters list. Such voters are deemed to have abstained from casting their vote. They are not included in the counting of votes and candidate securing the maximum number of votes in the constituency is declared winner irrespective of the winning margin. She further explained the advantages of rule 49-O for the voter i.e.  It provides an option to the voter to reject all candidates. It also helps to keep a check on bogus voting as someone else will not be able to impersonate and vote in place of him in favor of any candidate. If there are more than 50% no-votes , We can press our point to have  “None of the above” (NOTA)  option on EVM more strongly with the Government .
“The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961should be amended to specifically provide for negative / neutral voting. For this purpose, Rules 22 (Form of ballot paper) and 49B (Preparation of voting machine by the returning Officer) of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 should be suitably amended adding a provision that in the ballot paper and the particulars on the ballot unit, in the column relating to names of candidates, after the entry relating to the last candidate, there shall be a column None of the above, to enable a voter to reject all the candidates, if he chooses so.  The voter must be able to register a vote of disapproval/rejection if they are of the opinion that none of the contesting candidates deserve to be voted for. Right to vote must also include the vote of disapproval/rejection.  “None of the above” (NOTA) option enables a voter to officially register a vote of rejection of all contesting candidates available in the election. Even the ECI has recommended that the NOTA option must be made available on the electronic voting machine (EVM) for the voter to officially reject all candidates.” Urvashi added.

Urvashi requested all to Cast their vote at the voice of their conscienceand also  if they find no suitable candidate in their  constituency, she expressed the need to  exercise 49-O. In the end , 10 year old RTI prodigy Aishwarya Sharma who turned the famous song “ Kolaveri Di ” into “ Pollaveri Di ”with the specific aim of encouraging the voters to exercise their franchise in Indian polls , electrified the campaign by her lively performance.