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The Weight of a Vote

Why is ‘Vote’ important in an electoral democracy?

1. The votes that are exercised can decide not only the immediate winning prospects of the contesting candidate but have decisive bearing on the very future of democracy.

2. Normative weight of a vote in such a democracy is enormous.

Where are the problems?

1. It is not always the voters but the candidates also who decide the weight of a vote.

2. It has been the experience of the sex workers, Adivasis, and voters from the minorities that candidates for their votes never approached them.

3. The voters have an empty right to vote, but no right to be approached by candidates on an equal basis.

4. The right to vote carries value not just as a biological but also as a moral condition by assigning equal value to every vote irrespective of gender and religion.

5. It is in this moral sense that the right to vote becomes universal.

What is the importance of NOTA (None of the Above) option?

1. A suggestion has emerged from some enlightened political leaders that finds value not in the exercise of votes in favour of a particular candidate, but in not exercising it in favour any of the candidates from among the set listed in the electronic voting machines (EVM).

2. NOTA (None of the above option) assumes high morally evaluative standards for the candidates.

3. NOTA essentially tend to rest the moral initiative with a voter, who can then enjoy moral authority over their constitutional duty.

4. NOTA is treated as moral protest and hence has its basis in negative responsibility, which would mean that NOTA vote is the result of the poor quality of the candidates, for which the voter is not responsible.

5. NOTA tend to separate the individual from the principle of collective responsibility because the individual does not take the responsibility of being indirectly responsible to produce bad politics.

Which reasons motivate voters to use NOTA?

1. The electoral politics in reserved constituencies continues to be less competitive and, hence, makes it less motivating for voters to avoid the NOTA option.

2. It is also the specific social character of the constituencies that has some bearing on the decision to exercise NOTA.

3. NOTA essentially is an unmediated judgment that is arrived at by a person through their singular reading about the falling standards of the people’s representatives under question.

4. It is not reached after the intervening power of the voter is tested and not wasted in the “murky” political process that produces such a representative in the first instance.

5. NOTA is defined in terms of the absolute choice of a voter, and not in terms of historical process that involves the rejection of one candidate in favour of a relatively better one.