If you have friends, you would by now have received some ten thousand forwards on this elusive little section in the People’s Representation Act – a fabled 49-O. Here’s what it says.
49-O. Elector deciding not to vote.-If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.
Various people have been going ga-ga over this. Apparently it lets them express some sort of political statement about how they find all the politicians completely undeserving of their vote. Well, fair enough.
In the few times that I have voted in any election, I’ve always felt I was voting for the lesser evil. It wasn’t because the candidate has me in raptures with their promises, or because I was dazzled by my admiration for them. You can hate politicians all you like, but they are necessary. If you want to go about exercising this 49-O business, you might as well say, “Sure, give me the President’s rule”. Which is a bigger mockery of democracy than than having goons in the parliament. You really want a politician who understands you? Go stand for an election.
As far as I know, even if the majority opts for 49-O, votes that are tendered are counted, and winners are announced accordingly. So in effect, you are giving up your right to vote for the lesser evil. (Yes, the counter argument is that there could be equal evils – but that sort of symmetry is rare.)
So that money – that river of money that was spent on an election, could instead be used for something else, or at the very least, to minimize public debt. Before we get all orgasmic about 49-O, we need to consider what happens when we don’t positively assert our votes. Sure, the semantics of it suggest that opting for 49-O means you are making a choice, but what it actually means is that you are giving up your right and abstaining. You are fence-sitting. And your fence-sitting, which otherwise is nobody else’s business, costs the country a lot of money.
You are better off trying to pressurizing an existing government into action, rather than prevent government formation in the first place. You can’t choose? Very well, screw democracy. We’ll just get a dictator. Saves us money spent on elections.