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Tronic
27 Sep 13,, 22:45
Indian Voters Get 'None of the Above' Choice

Faced With Unpalatable Choice, Electors May Now Disapprove Entire Field

NEW DELHI—Indians have a new choice when they go to the polls: None of the above.

On Friday, the Supreme Court said voters in the world's largest democracy have the right to disapprove all candidates on the ballot, a step that could put pressure on parties to field better-qualified politicians.

"This judgment allows people to send a clear message to political parties," said Mahi Pal Singh, national secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, which had petitioned the court for the change.

Activists said they hope the court's ruling—ahead of five state elections this year and national polls due by the end of May—is a first step toward the establishment of a broader "right to reject."

Mr. Singh's group and others have long argued that candidates should be disqualified and new voting called if more than 50% of voters reject all the politicians standing for election.

Friday's ruling doesn't go that far and won't affect election outcomes even if a majority of voters reject all candidates. But it does lay the groundwork for such a step, said Kamini Jaiswal, one of the lawyers in the case.

"If a majority of the voters outright reject a candidate, how is he a representative of the people?" Ms. Jaiswal said. "This is a first step that will help evolve a new system."

Nirmala Sitharaman, a spokeswoman for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said the judgment "does send a signal to lawmakers that it's time for an overhaul" of voting rules.

She said changes should come sooner rather than later, but in a way that won't make "uncertainty and repeat elections the order of the day."

Political activists and anticorruption campaigners complain that India's national and state legislatures are packed with members charged with crimes.

Nearly a third of the members of the lower house of Parliament are facing criminal charges, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms, a New Delhi-based advocacy group for transparency in governance.

Large anti-graft protests in 2011 that brought hundreds of people onto the streets, and a series of high-profile corruption scandals involving senior politicians have also sparked popular discontent.

"A frustration has set in, especially with our youngsters," Ms. Sitharaman, the BJP spokeswoman, said. "Unless we reform the electoral system, we will not represent the aspirations of the new India."

During the past decade, the Supreme Court has been a force behind attempts to make the political system more transparent.

In 2003, it required that candidates disclose their criminal histories. And in a landmark decision in July, the court barred lawmakers convicted of serious crimes from serving in national and state legislatures, even if the conviction is being appealed.

"Each of these steps put together will one day let loose an avalanche of change," said Trilochan Sastry, a founder of the Association for Democratic Reforms. "Today was one more step."

The cabinet this week, however, approved an executive decree, known as an ordinance, which would effectively reverse the July ruling.

But the ordinance still hasn't been approved by the country's president and could be withdrawn as the governing Congress party faces mounting pressure—even within its own ranks—to reverse course.

Indian Voters Get 'None of the Above' Choice - WSJ.com (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304795804579100983021305874.html)

A much needed step in the right direction. I'm sure though that the scum political parties will not accept this lying down. Just in the same manner they are trying to pass ordinances to continue to allow criminals to serve as lawmakers of the country, circumventing a Supreme Court judgement. Ironic how the filth of the country, gets to decide the fate of the country.

cataphract
28 Sep 13,, 00:02
A much needed step in the right direction. I'm sure though that the scum political parties will not accept this lying down. Just in the same manner they are trying to pass ordinances to continue to allow criminals to serve as lawmakers of the country, circumventing a Supreme Court judgement. Ironic how the filth of the country, gets to decide the fate of the country.


Mr. Singh's group and others have long argued that candidates should be disqualified and new voting called if more than 50% of voters reject all the politicians standing for election.

Friday's ruling doesn't go that far and won't affect election outcomes even if a majority of voters reject all candidates. But it does lay the groundwork for such a step, said Kamini Jaiswal, one of the lawyers in the case.

Until this happens, the change is toothless.

lemontree
28 Sep 13,, 05:54
This is a step in the right direction. Now we have to wait and see if the order gets implimented by the Election Commission.

Doktor
28 Sep 13,, 07:09
Couldn't you make the ballot not valid, by crossing every single one of them? Or just 2 for that matter.

payeng
28 Sep 13,, 08:03
Electronic voting machine.

Doktor
28 Sep 13,, 08:42
Bring some nice magnets with you then :biggrin:

Blademaster
28 Sep 13,, 16:23
It may work in the short term but not necessarily the long term. What happens if you have more than 50% voters declining to vote for any of the candidates. Does that mean the candidate with the most votes win even though he didn't get the majority or will the seat be empty? Or there will be a run off? The more I think about it the more I think it may not turn out to be a good idea after all.

Tronic
28 Sep 13,, 23:12
It may work in the short term but not necessarily the long term. What happens if you have more than 50% voters declining to vote for any of the candidates. Does that mean the candidate with the most votes win even though he didn't get the majority or will the seat be empty? Or there will be a run off? The more I think about it the more I think it may not turn out to be a good idea after all.

Well, in Punjab, we've had a CM in the past who "won" and ruled the state for 3 years with less than 10% of the people turning out to vote, and him contesting the elections against himself (all other parties boycotted the election).. Most Punjabis considered him an illegitimate CM (and he eventually got assassinated anyways), so all this does is gives more value to people's choice and legitimizes their rejection of a candidate or political party.

This can only go two ways. Either, the people will vote to reject all parties by a majority, in which case, there will be an uproar and the Supreme Court will have to decide whether this means a re-election with atlernative choices. Or, the political parties will smarten up beforehand and field candidates in an effort to win over the new "None of the above" vote-bank. Either way, the pressure will only be on the political parties.

antimony
29 Sep 13,, 03:47
A much needed step in the right direction. I'm sure though that the scum political parties will not accept this lying down. Just in the same manner they are trying to pass ordinances to continue to allow criminals to serve as lawmakers of the country, circumventing a Supreme Court judgement. Ironic how the filth of the country, gets to decide the fate of the country.

I must say I was impressed that Chhotu Beta stood up against this recently, but might be an election trick