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Compulsory Voting in India

Compulsory Voting in India

In 2009, the Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Act received approval from the Governor. This new law introduces an interesting twist in the state’s municipal corporation, municipality, and Panchayat elections – an ‘obligation to vote.’ What this means is that if you’re a qualified voter in Gujarat, you now have a duty to cast your vote during elections for these local bodies. And yes, you still have the right to opt for NOTA (None of the Above).

But here’s the catch: if you don’t fulfill your duty and fail to vote, the election officer can send you a notice. You’ll have one month to provide valid reasons for your absence at the polls. If you don’t, you might be labeled a “defaulter voter” through an official order. The good news is that you can challenge this label by appealing to a designated officer, whose decision will be the final say in the matter. So, remember to exercise your voting rights in Gujarat to stay clear of any ‘defaulter voter‘ issues.

The law provides exemptions for specific individuals who are unable to vote in the following circumstances:

  1. If they are physically incapacitated due to illness or other similar reasons.
  2. If they are not currently in the state of Gujarat on the election date.
  3. And for any additional reasons specified in the rules.

This ensures that individuals with valid reasons are not obligated to vote.

The former Governor had some reservations about the Bill and didn’t give it her approval for a few reasons. She argued that mandatory voting might clash with Article 21 of the Constitution, which upholds individual liberty and the right not to vote. Additionally, she noted that the Bill didn’t address the government’s responsibility to facilitate the voting process, which involves keeping electoral rolls up to date, ensuring timely distribution of voter ID cards, and making polling stations easily accessible for everyone.

Read Also: Understanding Due Process vs. Procedure Established by Law

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