Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Voted for “NOBODY”

Yes! I did it… I opted for 49-O - “Elector refusing to vote”.

Yesterday I was reading my friend’s blog post on “Whether to vote a party or independent candidate?” which then triggered me to do some search to know the details on candidates who are contesting for Bangalore South constituency. There were few independent candidates contesting for the first time and their profiles were impressive. Although I was interested in only one profile, later I learnt from one of the article which said that the candidate (I was interested) will eventually join a big party and it was most certain. So without second thought, I decided to go with 49-O. As the argument continues, even if you vote for an independent candidate, it is most certain that he will get acquired by big fishes.

After reading my friend’s post, I left a comment that “I vote NOBODY this time” which triggered my friend also to think about the same and later we both decided to go with 49-O. We got complete details from the Law Ministry website ( and we were set to get on with the option. Here is the excerpt from the law document on 49-O:

49-O. Elector deciding not to vote.-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.

Today morning I took a 20 min class to my parents about the 49-O and they were little worried that I am actually going to do that. My dad went onto an extent telling “Politics is a dirty game and do not mess with it”. I did not understand anything out of that as I had decided that I vote NOBODY this time.

Since I was busy doing some writing in the morning, I thought of going to the polling booth in the afternoon. But I could not wait till the afternoon as my friend had already voted in the morning and the best part was she did actually vote for NOBODY. Bravo! Although she went through tough time at the polling booth to make them understand on her decision of refusing to vote, she did it. So I decided to leave immediately after listening to her on her experience.

While I was excitingly walking to the booth, the thought that was coming to my mind was “what if I get a bunch of jokers at the booth who will stop me from opting for 49-O like the way they tried for my friend?”. I reached the booth at 12 Pm and had to stand in the queue. I was keenly observing each and every voter who was standing in the line and was expecting there will be someone like me!

My turn came and I went to the electoral officers and gave my voter ID card. They found my record, and they asked me to sign on the register. I did everything that they wanted except for going to the voting machine. I said “Officer, I have decided not to vote any of the candidates this time and please mark your entry against my record as ‘I refused to vote’ as per the 49-O”. There was a sudden silence and all the three officers were shocked and they were looking at me like the way they look at some thriller movie!!!

The way my friend had tough time and the thought which was coming to my mind while I was walking is what I actually encountered. All the three officers were reluctant to accept my words and they were behaving as if they were not aware of this option. I had to ask them to pull out their election rules book to check on the option and fortunately I had taken a printout of 49-O.
Finally they got convinced (actually they were very much aware of this option but just to make me vote, I guess they played the trick) and the asked the person who was updating the details in the register to mark “Refused to Vote” in the remarks field of my record. Out of the three officers, 2 were absolutely fine but the third guy was still not happy with my decision. He actually asked me to take some time and come back with the better decision to vote. Finally I had to give them mouthful to stop forcing me to change my decision and came out of the booth. And yes! With absolute politeness, I went to the person with the ink and asked her to kindly mark it on my finger. She did it with a smile! What else can she do???

I know that my vote may not be useful but it is certainly not misused. It is my vote and my decision to vote for a candidate or vote for NOBODY as per 49-O. When there are no good candidates, why chose them?

You have the right to chose or not to chose them. So let's make our vote count…!



Narasim said...

Dear Srikanth,

Thank you for setting forth your reasoning for electing to exercize your right under Section 49-0.

I am impressed that you took the time and effort to research the law, discuss the matter with your friend and dad, took a hard copy of the Act with you to the polling station, reasoned with the polling officers, and finally did what your conscience permitted you to do.


I wish all other eligible voters in India and elsewhere were as diligent as you are.

I have always held the view that voting in a liberal democratic society where elections are conducted in a fair and free manner is a privilege. It is not merely a right.

In my senior years, I have come to the conclusion that in life there is rarely a choice between good and evil. It is invariably between evil and lesser evil.

Although voting for nobody sends a message, it may have the inadvertent effect of contributing to the election of the least desirable.

Something to keep in mind.

Once again, your research effort and the writing is commendable.

Narasim Katary

Vaishnavi said...

Yes Srikanth, this is probably the start of a movement to demand a 'None of the Above' options on EVMs so that we don't have to choose from a bunch of jokers. Read this piece
I completely support this.

Ashok. V said...

Hi srik,
Though we did have a confrontation on vaish's article, I support the initiative of strengthening the 49-O to make it much more effective and relevant. If there's anyway we can ensure that the parties field able candidates we have to do it! And this sure seems to be a potential method.

ವಿ.ರಾ.ಹೆ. said...

Thank you verymuch for this information. I was in the belief that ,until they introduce a 49-O option button in voting machine, we can't go for this !