Editor’s Desk       April 2014                      Vol  6  No.6

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Compulsory Voting- If not voted, Punish!

  

Why Can’t India make Compulsory Voting?

Can India control the Election’s Expenditure?

Are there any alternative Election methods?

Do we expect the certificates of “Literate Uneducated” in the future rather than “Educated”?

           The systems of voting, voter cards, execution of voter ID’s still is in the process in India. Why it is in the process only?  What went wrong?  Everyone knows the problem but the question is Who bell the Cat. Education has to increase the awareness, whereas educated people only not voting, Uneducated / rural voting is higher than educated/ urban voting.  It is not that Government is not taking proper steps; the problem is in the execution because ofthe corrupted systems, literate uneducated people, non benefited illiterates.  Until and unless the Good governing Government with Good Leaders elected with 100% voting system, it is not possible to change; There is a great respect to Law, but Law if it is implemented with punishment for non voters then definitely, voting %ge will increase i.e “Dandam Dashagunam”  i.e Punishment.

It is the first time in Indian history, A gigantic amount of Rs. 30000 crore likely to spend for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections whereas for the US presidential elections approximately Rs.42,000 crores spent;  the Election Commission is likely to spend around Rs. 3,500 crore. According to the CMS study per voter expenditure will stand at Rs. 400 to Rs. 500 voter.

In the words of Mr. N. Bhaskara Rao, Centre for Media Studies, till now political parties used to spend more during elections, but now individual candidates spending more than parties. Different industries in different states contribute to election funding, may be tendu leaf business, mining business or the cement industry, they all contribute". Despite efforts, the electoral system lacks a "level playing field" due to unaccounted for or black money.

Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath said worried about "money power" - heavy spending and the use of illegal funds to influence the outcome. India's advertising industry expects to see Rs. 4,900crore injections during the election season, according to an outlook by the country's largest local agency, Madison Media. Rules allow candidates to spend Rs. 70 lakh on campaigns for a parliament seat but the real cost of winning is about 10 times that, thanks to spending on rallies, fuel and media campaigns that often include payments for coverage. In the last three years, election authorities seized Rs.200 crorein the form of concealed cash, some if it stashed in helicopters, milk trucks and even funeral vans, a former election commissioner said.

 

Of 31 countries with compulsory voting, a dozen actually enforce it.

Election Commission has sent a reference to the Law Ministry with new proposals including compulsory voting, following Supreme Court’s order that steps be taken to legally bind all eligible voters in the country to exercise their right of franchise as early as possible and ensure that the winning candidate bags a true majority vote, time is certainly ripe to have a glance at the 31 countries with compulsory voting systems in place.

Countries that have compulsory voting systems are Austria, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, France (senate only), Gabon, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Nauru, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland (province of Schaffhausen), Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay.

History tells that in 1777, 10 years before the American Constitution of 1787, the US state of Georgia had made it compulsory for every citizen to vote or pay a penalty of five pounds (not dollars). A reasonable excuse, however, was admissible.

Countries with compulsory voting generally hold elections on a Saturday or Sunday to ensure that working people can fulfill their duty to cast their vote, besides providing postal and pre-poll voting is provided to people who cannot vote on polling day. Moreover, mobile voting booths are also installed at old age homes and hospitals to cater for immobilized citizens in these nations.

"People have been sentenced to jail terms for not voting. It's disgusting. It's far from being democratic. We are not a democracy if we can't vote democratically." But Dr Peter Chen, who teaches politics at the University of Sydney, warns that this type of heated rhetoric blows things out of proportion. He says showing up to the polls every so often is not a huge burden.

Supporters of the system say Australia boasts some of the highest civic participation in the world, with a reported 94% voter turnout in the last federal election, compared with about 65% in the UK's 2010 general election and an estimated 57% in the 2012 US presidential election.

"If voting was democratic, politicians would be beholden to the voters, they couldn't hold a gun to our heads and force us to vote, they'd have to give us a good reason to vote. They'd have to inspire us."

"Most Australians are quite comfortable with the electoral process and would be quite suspicious of efforts to change it. We trust the electoral system more than we trust our politicians.

"It's an irony, but we really like our democracy." 

 Findings:

1.     In the world few countries imposed compulsory voting systems.

2.    Some countries are punishing for non voters.

3.    Huge money is being spent by Government and individual unaccounted money for Elections in India.

4.    Few countries have faith on Election systems than politicians.

5.    Some Urban Voters  & some highly educated voters are not voting.

 

 Conclusion:

Why Can’t India make Compulsory Voting?

Yes.  It is possible only thru strong Government Decisions and implementations.

Can India control the Election’s Expenditure?

Yes. Only thru proper strong implementation of rules like Mr. T.N.Sheshan, Ex-Election commissioner who made the awareness of Elections and the power of Election Commission.

Are there any alternative Election methods?

Yes. Not to waste the time of voters, making arrangements, punishing the non voters who are educated. Central tracking system of non voters, putting the non voters in the black list will make the educated illiterates to vote and sanctioning the benefits that is voted only.

Do we expect the certificates of “Literate Uneducated” in the future rather than “Educated”?

Yes.  If urban votes goes on reducing, then their education is not useful in selection of the right person for ruling, then it is better to brand as literate uneducated certificates.  So rules should happen to take back the degrees also.

So, our Education should link with Social Responsibility of Compulsory Voting. From School only creating the awareness and for Educated Voters the shock of punishment should made to vote.

 

With Warm Regards,

Prof. Shekhara Gowd Mitta, Founder & Managing Editor, AI-IJRMSST

References:

 1)       PTI, (2014, March 16), “Rs. 30,000 crore to be spent on Lok Sabha polls: study” report published in www.ndtv.com

2)       Agencies, (2014, March 10), “India's spend on elections could challenge US record: “ report published in www.ndtv.com

3)       Sabir Shah, (2013, February 14), “Of 31 countries with compulsory voting, a dozen actually enforce it”  report published in http://www.thenews.com.pk

4)       B. Sivakumar, (2014, February 18), “Polls to cost country Rs 3,500 crore this year” report published in  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

5)       Katie Beck, (2013, Aughust 27), “Australia election: Why is voting compulsory?” report in  http://www.bbc.com