Worlds Largest Democratic process : 2 VOTING
- March 18, 2019, 11:44 am
The predominant objective of conducting free and fair elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has pulled up the strings in few matters. The election process in India this year sees 900million people eligible for voting out of total 1.3billion. In this article, we shall look into voting.
VOTE: The word vote has come from the Latin word votum which means a vow or wish. Voting means formally expressing an opinion or wish in response to a proposed decision or as an indication of approval or disapproval of a proposal or candidate for office.
Types of Votes:
There are two types of votes:
(a) Deliberative: This is the common type of vote. Every member has the right of casting his deliberative vote on any issue. The deliberative vote means the opinion arrived at by an individual after due deliberation or thinking on the merits and demerits of an issue.
b) Casting: The bye-laws of an association or the Articles of a company may provide special voting right for the chairman. When deliberative votes have been cast on an issue and votes cast in favour and votes cast against are equal, there is a deadlock. It is called a ‘tie’. In order to break the ‘tie’ and to come to a positive or negative decision, the chairman may exercise his right of casting vote. In India, chairman of the houses of parliament and assemblies exercise this power of casting vote.
Procedures of Voting:
There are two distinct procedures of voting: Open and Secret. Open type of voting means every member present can see to which side every other member is voting. In the case of secret voting, no one can see it. Voting on delicate and confidential issues must follow the secret procedure.
1. Open Procedure: There are different methods of the open procedure of voting as described below:
(a) By Acclamation:
Voting can be done or opinion can be expressed by acclamation or some outward expression of approval by clapping of hands or thumping on the table. Generally, any non-controversial issue or a matter of rejoicing for the members as a whole is approved by acclamation. Under this method, actual counting of votes does not take place. India doesn't follow this methodology
(b) By Voice:
Under this method the chairman requests the members to give their voice first who are in favour of the issue and then requests those to give their voice who are against the issue. Those who are in favour, shout ‘Aye’ (Aye means Yes) and those who are against, shout ‘No’. The voices are taken separately and the chairman has to judge whether the ‘Ayes’ are stronger or the ‘Noes’ and accordingly declares the result. This is not a scientific method and cannot be adopted for some controversial issue unless it is very clear from the composition of members which side is stronger. Under this method, actual counting of votes does not take place but the sense of the house can be known. Election of a candidate cannot take place by this method. India and Britain’s parliaments follow this type of voting to decide upon the passage of bills, resolutions etc.
2. Secret Procedure: Voting can take place secretly so that nobody knows to which side the other member is casting his vote. This can be done by ballot. Usually, general elections follow this method as a secret vote is an essential feature of the democracy for maintaining free and fair elections
(a) By Ballot:
Under this method, every member is supplied with one or more than one (in case of a Poll) ballot paper in which he records his opinion or vote by a suitable mark. Then he drops the ballot paper in a sealed box kept for the purpose. The ballot box is opened by the chairman in front of the tellers or scrutinizers. The votes are counted and the results are declared. Some ballot papers may be rejected because of any defect or fault in making the mark. Ballot papers are generally numbered bearing the seal of the association for safety otherwise false ballot papers may be entered into the box by some dishonest members.
Voting by ballot is essential to make the method foolproof and at the same time maintaining full secrecy.
Voting by ballot could be done by these methods also
Under this method, serially numbered ballot papers are sent by post in sealed covers to the members, who, living at a distant place, are unable to attend the meeting physically. If postal ballots are allowed, voting becomes more representative. At the time of general election postal ballots are sent to those who, being government servants, are away on official duty. The members or voters fill in the ballot papers and return them in sealed covers which are opened when the ballot box is opened for counting the votes.
In India, members of the armed force have been given the eligibility for postal ballot voting.
The poll means tendering or offering vote by ballot to a specially appointed officer, called the polling officer. In case of a general election, it is described as a poll because:
(a) There is a polling booth where the citizens have to register their votes;
(b) There is a polling officer in charge of every polling booth;
(c) The voting is done by secret ballot.
3. Mechanical voting:
Votes may be cast by pressing buttons and automatic registration is made on board either with lighting up of electric lamps, green in favour and red against or by addition to a total number (as is found in the USA at the time of Presidents election by the people).
RPA Amendment to enable proxy voting for NRI:
The Amendment Bill seeks to enable Non-Resident Indians to cast votes through their proxies in the constituency. The 1950 Representation of people Act deals with the allocation of seats and delimitation of constituencies for elections, qualifications of voters, and preparation of electoral rolls. The 1951 Act provides for the conduct of elections and offences and disputes related to elections. Section 20A of the 1950 Act recognized the right of an NRI to have her name entered in the electoral roll. However, the right to vote was exercisable only in person. In order to allow proxy voting by NRIs, Section 60 of the 1951 Act is proposed to be amended by the Bill, by adding sub-section in Section 60. Section 60 enables the Election Commission to frame rules to allow the special procedure for voting by special class of persons. It is in the exercise of this provision that the EC has allowed indirect methods of casting vote like postal vote, vote by wife etc. The new sub-section seeks to enable the EC to frame rules to make the special procedure for any of the persons as is referred to in section 20A of the 1950-Act to give his vote either in person or by proxy and not in any other manner at any election in a constituency where the poll is taken. The Bill also seeks to include gender-neutral references by substituting word "wife" with "spouse". The amendment will satisfy the long-standing demand of the NRI community for voting rights.
This could also be referred to as Absentee Ballot, ie; to cast a vote by someone who is unable to go to the polling station. The system is designed to increase voter turnout. In some countries, the voter is required to give a reason for not going to the polling station, before participating in an absentee ballot. In India, a postal ballot is available to only some citizens. The Representation of the People Act, 1950 allows heads of states and those serving in the armed forces to vote through postal means. The Lok Sabha recently passed a Bill to allow proxy voting for NRIs. However, domestic migrants and absentee voters in India cannot cast postal votes.