Narendra Modi government’s law to make voting compulsory in local body polls in Gujarat has failed to make a cut with the Election Commission which says extending the idea across the country is “impracticable“.
“Such proposals had come up for discussion in the Commission on many occasions earlier. For India, it is full of difficulties. We also consider that democracy and compulsion do not go hand-in-hand,” Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said.
Pointing out that 40 per cent of the 714 million voters do not vote, he said people not coming out to exercise their franchise was a matter of concern to the Commission.
However, voter education could be a better option to enthuse voters and the Commission is engaged in roping in youth, particularly college and school students, to enhance voter awareness.
“It is a good idea, a noble idea. A welcome move. But whether this is implementable in places like India is a big question mark,” former senior EC official K J Rao said.
Because of law, the percentage of voting may increase, but effective implementation would be impracticable, Mr. Rao, known for conducting free and fair elections in Bihar, said.
He wanted to know how the measure would be put into practice and whether a voter would be fined and jailed for non-compliance.
Noting that 13 of the 32 countries, where voting has been made compulsory, were not enforcing the law, he said launching an awareness campaign among people to exercise their franchise could be effective.