Compulsory voting in national polls `not feasible`: Chawla

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 18:36

New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner Navin
Chawla on Wednesday said it was "not feasible" to have compulsory
voting in an election held on a national scale but left it to
Parliament to decide.

"If you ask me is it feasible (to have compulsory voting)
in a election on a national scale. It is not," he told
reporters here on the sidelines of the Election Commission`s
Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

However, he said it was for Parliament to discuss and
debate in this regard and enact a law.

"I have to preface this by saying that it is for
Parliament to debate, Parliament to discuss, Parliament to
enact. Now, when that happens, we will see," said Chawla.

Moderating a session on `Voter Education: New Ways and
Alliances`, Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi suggested that
compulsory voting was undemocratic.

"Democracy and compulsion do not go hand-in-hand. Our
stand is very clear, voter education is the key and not
compulsion," he said.

Among the two dozen delegates from the world over, only
the representative from Thailand said that his country had
compulsory voting.

Quraishi said that he would surely like to know how the
system worked.

Later, Chawla said the Election Commission believed
in promoting voter education, adding, "Our thrust is on voter
education, voter awareness, bringing in the youth from the
campuses. That is our direction," he said.

Chawla noted that the country had a large section of
unorganised labour and in case of a sick child one cannot
expect a mother to go and vote rather than attend to her
offspring.

"Now, I leave you with one thought that -- see we have
such large unorganised labour. A child is sick. Is the mother
to come to vote or face punitive measures if she does not," he
said.

"Are we going to be collecting medical certificates? We
have at the moment about 60 per cent of our population casting
their vote," Chawla said.

He, however, refused to comment on the Gujarat
legislature passing a law making voting compulsory in local
body elections.

Chawla said the State Election Commission was an
independent Constitutional authority and one must respect that
position.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 18:36

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