Voting to be compulsory during Gujarat's 2015 local body polls
Ahmedabad: Compulsory voting would be implemented for the first time during Gujarat's local body elections scheduled for next year, a state minister said today.
"The Gujarat Local Authorities Law Amendment Bill will be implemented in the local body polls, which will be held in mid-2015," Gujarat Health Minister Nitin Patel said.
Gujarat will become the first state in the country to implement compulsory voting in local body polls, but the state government has still not decided of what punitive actions can be taken against a 'defaulter voter'.
"The Bill has been sanctioned by the Governor. We are in the process of making rules and provisions to punish voters, whoever fails to vote," Patel said.
He said that penal actions would not be stern and the government would only try to make voters aware about polling.
"If any person is not keeping well or if he goes to attend a marriage or if he has any other serious genuine reasons to not cast his vote, it will be decided by the election officer concerned," Patel said.
"The election officer will seek an explanation from voters and if he finds reasons given by them to be reasonable and genuine, then they would be be exempted from penal action," he said.
Voters who fail to vote in local body polls, would have to furnish reasons on an affidavit to election officers, Patel said.
Last week, Gujarat Governor O P Kohli gave his nod to the Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill 2011, which makes voting mandatory in civic polls and has a provision of punishment.
It also provides 50 per cent reservation for women in local bodies elections.