At the different places where I am talking, people come with all sorts of questions. Many want to know if they can actually express their displeasure at the candidates by exercising the option of saying ‘I will not vote for anyone’. Such an option exists under Section 49 (O). Till October 2013, this option was not part of the EVM machines used in the voting process. The Supreme Court has now directed the Election Commission to include it as part of the EVMs in all forthcoming elections. This also permits secrecy for a voter in expressing his NOTA option, which did not exist before. With civil society beginning to get involved, it is time for all of us to get together and advocate for electoral reforms. Some of them could be:
- State funding of elections.
- Permitting political parties to participate in the Parliament elections only if they have polled a minimum number of votes in the earlier elections.
- Power to recall non-performing candidates.
- Mandating minimum number of days that each elected candidate should attend Parliament to be qualified to contest the next time.
- Winning candidates to get a minimum number of the total votes polled.
- Make voting compulsory for every Indian citizen.
These are only a few of the ideas that we could all advocate for. Once reforms are set in the electoral process, we can definitely hope for more probity in public life. While we cannot eliminate corruption in public life, we can at least make it difficult for people who are corrupt. We can at least have disincentives which will make the corrupt look like social and political outcasts.