The Supreme Court has done a great service to Indian democracy by asking the Election Commission to introduce negative voting in elections. It will empower the voters like the introduction of adult franchise empowered the Indian citizen. All that the commission has to do is to introduce a new provision whereby voters can vote for “none of the above candidates”. At present, the voters have to choose one of the candidates, nominated by political parties or contesting as Independents. Even if a voter does not like any, he has to vote for one. The only alternative is to abstain from the whole voting process in which case such an opinion will not be counted.
Voters are supposed to be supreme in elections but in India they play a marginal role and political parties a larger role. The latter nominate candidates, who need not necessarily be well-known persons with a record of service to the people. In fact, it is not uncommon for the parties to nominate the relatives and hangers-on of their leaders. That is why the number of criminals in politics has been on the rise. The voters find that they can’t do much to remedy the situation. The court’s decision will allow the voters to vote against all the candidates if they think that they do not merit their votes.
Though the court has not mentioned what would happen if those who vote for “none of the above candidates” outnumber those who choose one of the candidates, fresh elections should be held with fresh nominations in such constituencies. As was mentioned in the court, negative voting is allowed in several countries. Even in parliament, the members enjoy the privilege of maintaining neutrality on subjects that are put to voting. The new provision will force political parties to be more sensitive towards the feelings of the voters. They will have to choose candidates who enjoy a groundswell of support or have a clean and inspiring record in public service. The turnout of voters will also improve.