Elections: dont like anyone?

High chances that you have not heard about this thing commonly referred to as 49-O (pronounced forty-nine-oh). Apparently, our election system does have a provision for you to say “none of the above”! Don’t rush to Wikipedia for details, head to Election Commission’s website to learn what 49-O is:

49O. Elector deciding not to vote.-If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters … decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made … and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.

So, if you really want, you can tell EC that hey, I don’t like any of the available candidates. Why do we have this provision? Few possible reasons as captured by this Wikipedia note:

  1. An outlet to express frustration at political choices available to you?
  2. A way to prevent electoral fraud? If everyone voted, whether under 49N, O or P, there would be no fraud possible.
  3. Or, is it that voters can use 49O to “force” a re-election with fresh set of candidates?

That third point is the one I want to know more about. Does anyone have any authentic sources to confirm if this is possible – if number of 49O votes tally more than the winning candidate, would that trigger a re-election with fresh candidates? Can voters actually get together and force re-elections like that?

Wonder why 49O is not that well publicized or known. With this provision, I see no reason why voting shouldn’t be mandatory for all citizens. The “I don’t like anyone ” excuse wont stand!

PS: I first heard of 49O via this article about CEC’s visit to the US.

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4 Responses

  1. Turns out I had prematurely pressed publish on this one, and a half done post has been out the whole day! Anyways, have corrected the typos etc now.

  2. SB – A good topic! You know what – I never had been voting for a few years because to me voting to pick one among those available is akin to picking a shirt from a heap of ALL DIRTY ones. I would pick the one which APPEARS least dirty (NOT to be read as cleanest) to me (for evidently any sane person would not pick a dirtier one), unless I’m not an ambassador of the brand of the shirt I chose (You know – many votes go by which party the candidate belongs to and in turn which caste / religion that party endorses). Instead of picking and wearing the least dirty one I would roam around with no shirt on – that WAS my theory. Then I realized that such missing votes are casted too – because you know there are people out there to help you by doing so for you but then the choice is that of those who engage them! (We’ll waste food, water, money, all precious time but not a vote – don’t you know that yet?). Then, I started casting vote for that candidate whom you know (by the going pulse) will NEVER win – and that’s the ONLY reason I find to vote.
    Shouldn’t we also infer that a 49% of casted votes favoring candidate ‘X’ means 51% of the people who casted their votes do NOT favor ‘X’? ‘X’ still represents (well, theoretically) us! Funny – isn’t it? Sorry for posting a lengthy comment but I keep wonder where we’re heading to – with all our archaic laws, no rule of even those and our hefty netas who want to make their wallets even fatty! God bless India!!!

  3. I have heard of this before, but does not the system currently decide that whoever gets the majority out of the votes cast for any candidate wins ? So even if you post negative votes, whatever be the moral implication, it does not matter.

  4. @ Simi, thanks.

    @ Ashish, agree. 49O sounds more like a “negative thing” than constructive. What purpose does it serve if we can force a re-election with all new candidates – wouldn’t that just cause more of the same? But on the other hand, this could be a way to get feedback on quality of candidates. Political parties can use this to get real feedback on what candidates they should put up next time around.

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