Gujarat polls: Over 600 voters opted ‘not to vote’ in the first phase

Vote

Even as lakhs of people thronged polling booths in the first phase of assembly elections in Saurashtra, south Gujarat and parts of Ahmedabad district which saw a record voter turnout of over 70%, a few electorate decided otherwise: to exercise their right not to vote.

As many as 628 voters decided not to vote or exercised the right to reject under Section 49(O) of The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, on December 13, said Chief Electoral Officer Anita Karwal.

However, many of them faced difficulty in exercising the right as presiding officers for the polling booths at some constituencies were not intimated that such an exercise existed, and did not even have Form 17(A) that is required to be filled to exercise this right.

As per the Section 49(O) of the conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, if a voter, after going through the voting formalities, decides not to vote for any candidate, "he has to inform the polling officer/presiding officer about the decision, and the latter will then make entries in the Register of Electors to the effect".

Himanshu Brahmbhatt, an MCA student from Nadiad who was among these voters, said, "None of the candidates contesting from our constituency looks worthy of my vote, which is why I decided to exercise this right. I am sure several people would like to go this way, provided they knew such a thing existed."

He added that the presiding officer of his area did not have the form required to exercise the vote. "I finally wrote in the register that I am not interested in casting my vote," he said.

Similarly, Anita Verma, a retired professor, had to put down her remark that she was not interested in voting for any candidate after the presiding officer failed to provide the form.

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