Gandhinagar: The Gujarat government has
proposed to make voting compulsory in the local bodies polls
and will bring a bill to the effect in the coming assembly
session, official sources said.
A Gujarat Local Authorities (Amendment) Bill, 2009 which
will be introduced in the state assembly session starting from
December 17 has proposed to make voting compulsory in
Municipal Corporations, Municipalities and Panchayat polls,
The proposed bill, however, provides for giving freedom
to voters to cast their vote in favour of "none of the
candidates contesting elections".
As per the provision of the bill, all registered voters
will be required to vote in the elections.
Voting for elections has never been compulsory in
Gujarat all these years.
The proposed bill also has a provision that qualified
voter will be exempted to vote if he is physically incapable
or he is absent from the country or the state on the date of
voting or for any other valid reason prescribed by the rules
to be framed by the government in consultation with the
Election Commission later.
The bill provides that an election officer would
issue a notice to the voter who fails to cast his vote and
within one month that voter would need to provide reasons for
not having voted.
If the election officer is not satisfied with the
reasons along with supporting documents, the person will be
declared `defaulter voter`.
Rules of punishment for the defaulter voters will be
framed at a later stage in consultation with the Election
Commission, the bill said.
The bill is likely to start a debate in the country
given that it would be for the first time any state is
planning to make voting mandatory albeit for local bodies.