I Believe in Change, I Vote!

“Whether voting should be made mandatory in our country or not”  is something we have debated on more in the past few years & the most, last month on the occasion of National Voter’s Day. Roughly a month after the event I choose to write about it. It’s not an occasional here & there view on the issue but a serious look at its paybacks.

I firmly accept that voting should be made mandatory because I believe, why make voting an option when it can help you choose your political envoy. Keeping the current scenario in mind, the percentage of people who vote in India today is around 45% of which the weaker sections constitute the majority. These people mostly are unaware and are ill informed about the political system of India and it’s on goings. It is the false promises of candidates or politicians that tow them to the polling booth.

We also have a very low percentage of elite and educated Indians voting, some of who are well informed but a large number of them go by the family voting trend i.e. as to what party their family favors or simply vote for the sake of it because voting is a mere option for them as of today.

Thus with the current trend in setting the turn out is already low and in addition to that we observe votes that are either driven by false promises, sometimes people are even paid to vote or ignorance of people who barely make an effort to go through their representative’s candidature.

Thus, results in a very erroneous electoral turn out selecting candidates who are less deserving and may have a criminal background. As a result much needed issues are not raised before the government or in parliament.

With this I believe that the ongoing system has not been able to motivate people right to cast their votes which are self driven or are responsibly done. Thus I believe, making voting mandatory would definitely bring a reform and will strengthen our democracy.

Compulsory voting will help in raising issues of development. It will encourage government to take up reforms. People will realize their much privileged say in the political arena; one would start thinking and talking about the electoral process & their preferred political parties. With that, much needed questions will be raised. Because now it will no more be considered as a grant but more of a right that comes with a responsibility.

There will also come a responsibility on the government to encourage political education from the grass root level where it will become inevitable to have appropriate political education in schools and colleges. Students will be informed well about the different parties and will get a sound knowledge of electoral process and its benefits. Apart from schools & colleges, the reform will be carried in every bend of the country barring none including old people who too feature as an important part of our classlessness.

This will form individuals who are not only eligible to vote but politically clued-up also further preventing random voting. It will generate huge acceptance of politics as a career among youth resulting in a stronger democracy that understands the importance of vote.

Now let me also get to the concept of negative voting- which will help people who refuse to vote i.e. believe in no party or the system to come out and have their say, further facilitating in understanding India’s electorate position better. I believe along with making voting obligatory, one should also include the very important alternative of negative voting.  It will ease up the process of introduction of this very “polemique” amendment.

If we see world over the number of countries that carry out mandatory voting today, we have 25 countries inhabited by more than 700 million people which have compulsory voting even for their parliamentary election. These include Australia, Argentina, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Thailand and Singapore.

So for India to bring this reform & make it a success lies in the development of political education as I elaborated earlier. Along with that making voting available at every corner through internet & bank offices will help in keeping a check on the turn out. Also these options won’t cost much. With UIDAI’s Aadhaar in process nothing seems impossible. In some countries voting is even made available at hospitals and beer bars. India can consider that option too.

Morally there comes a responsibility on parents & family too. They should not thrust upon their choices on their children but encourage them to think independently as to what party they want to vote for.  The least we can do as inhabitants of this nation is, comply with the law with patience and act as responsible citizens.

I would like to end on the note that I believe if Gujarat’s compulsory voting bill was turned down… It was only due to politically driven motives or failure to believe in the system. Mandatory voting does not snatch away one’s right to express instead a low turn out would imbalance the much respected democracy of India.


Shelly Mahajan

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