SMS and online voting will help but Gujarat’s compulsory voting law is a bad idea
The Lok Sabha polls last year witnessed the highest ever voter turnout of 66.4%, primarily because people voted for a change; the latest assembly polls in Delhi too recorded a similar turnout as voters in the capital wanted to ensure a thumping victory for the Aam Aadmi Party.
Although it is true that whenever there is a wave in favour or against a party in a particular assembly or Lok Sabha polls, the voting percentage improves, but in general many still prefer not to vote.
In fact, voter turnout—prior to 2014 polls—in the Lok Sabha elections ranged between 55-62% since the first general election in 1952, when it was 61.2%.
So, Gujarat government’s move to ensure that all voters vote is in the right direction to the extent it is limited to the use of technological advancements like SMS and e-voting.
However, making voting mandatory and penalising those who don’t vote is a wrong move and it must be avoided.
The Indian Express reported yesterday that the state government is set to notify a law on compulsory voting with a penalty clause before the municipal corporations and local body elections due in October.
This would be regressive and impinge on the citizens’ freedom to decide what they want to do—not voting in an election also means rejection of all the candidates. This situation will change only if political parties put up better candidates.