You can refuse to vote in BBMP polls

BENGALURU: While there is no provision for NOTA vote in the BBMP polls scheduled for August 22, those not willing to vote in the elections can still do that. A voter can walk up to the polling officer, prove his or her identity, sign the register and decline to vote. The election authorities will make a “refused to vote” note in the register.
There are 73 lakh people, including the two lakh added in recent weeks, eligible to vote in the municipal polls on Saturday. In a few parts of Bengaluru, voters are grouping themselves threatening to stay away from polls to register their protest against poor civic infrastructure in their areas.

Refusal to vote and NOTA (none of the above) are more of a psychological weapon a voter or a group of voters can use against a candidate or political party. In the process of counting, it is treated as good as an invalid vote. Even if NOTA votes or refusals are more than the number of votes polled, it will not have any impact on the poll outcome as the election authorities will declare the candidate who has polled the maximum number of votes as elected.

“There is no NOTA option in the BBMP polls because the laws have not yet been amended to provide for that,” State Election Commissioner PN Sreenivasachary told ET.

The Commission has written to the government requesting it to amend the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act and Karnataka Municipalities Act so that it could introduce NOTA provision in future polls to urban local bodies.

The Siddaramaiah regime recently amended the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act providing for NOTA provision in panchayat polls, but it is yet to take effect. The Commission plans to implement it in the forthcoming Zilla and taluk panchayat elections.

On Wednesday, the High Court dismissed a public interest litigation moved by a city-based advocate seeking a NOTA button on the electronic voting machine (EVM) for the Saturday’s civic polls. The court shot it down saying election itself is being held after prolonged legal fights, and it is too late to do anything about the petitioner’s request at this stage.

Bengaluru is heading to a hurriedly-called civic poll on Saturday. The election is taking place amid confusion over the future of the civic body itself, and several voters are not happy with the way the whole exercise is going about. ET spoke to prominent Bengalureans on why it is still important for people to vote.