My Vote My Right: Voters Must Take a ‘No Note’ Pledge to Ensure Ethical Voting

This episode of My Vote My Right speaks about Ethical Voting.

Scene:

Election Officer Vijaya joins a group of women which has gathered after completing all the household chores. Vijaya asks the women which person they wish to vote for. Women share many different thoughts – “I wish to vote for a person whom we know closely and have seen, who will work for us and who will raise their voice for us,” Priyanka says. Manjula revels that her neighbours vote for the person who gives the family Rs. 2,000 or Rs. 3,000 per vote; in a few homes, the head of the family will force others to vote for a particular person. A few people vote for the person who gives them pressure cookers and saris as well.

Vijaya also mentions how alcohol is also supplied during elections to bribe the voters. She suggests that during elections, we should not sell our votes self for gifts, alcohol and money. During elections, the politicians tend to talk in a very friendlier manner and in some cases, also literally fall at the voters’ feet for blessings and emotional appeal. “These things happen, but after elections, if you go to these elected officials for any work-related concern, they won’t even bother to respond. They make sure that they earn back all the money they had to spend during the elections. Which is why we should think and vote.for the person who works and stands for us. Taking any money and giving money during elections is wrong because in the future these politicians will only say that I gave you money, so you voted for me. We will be unable to question them with any authority.”

……………………….

Dr. Priyanca Mathur further explains the ethics involved in the voting process. “Everyone should avoid the influence of liquor, money and other gifts distributed by political parties because bribing for votes is a legal offence The voter should avoid getting influenced by family members as well and they should check the promises made by the party candidates and read their manifestos. We should also avoid any influence on the basis of caste, community and religion. On 16th of January this year, the Election commission of India launched Voter Awareness Forums across the country. This was launched by Chief Electoral Officers in the state capitals and District Electoral Officers in the districts. These VAF’s are informal forums for generating awareness around the electoral process through activities like discussions, competitions, quizzes and other activities. Addressing the nodal officers from 44 ministries of the GOI and representatives from the Confederation of the Indian Industry (CII) and The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) at the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra, New Delhi. The Election Commission exhorted everyone to immediately set up VAFs and facilitate the enrollment of all officials and employees in the electoral roll.”

Ethical Voting is integral to the functioning of a Democracy – only sincere voting should be acceptable, and buying, selling and trading of votes is inherently wrong. The principals of ethical administration are that there should be demonstratable respect for law and that the election administration must be non-party affiliated, neutral, transparent, accurate and designed to serve the voters only. “There are three dimensions to electoral participation – it should be ethical, it should be inclusive and it should be informed. Unethical behaviour is a vicious cycle because if a party is distributing money to influence the voter, then the voter will end up always expecting more and more money. This cycle is broken only when if a voter takes a ‘No Note’ pledge.”

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