Voters in Gorakhpur seek ‘right to reject’


Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) : In a unique case, some voters sought to exercise their right to reject during polling in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections second phase here Saturday. However, with no such provision in electoral laws, they were allowed to put on record their decision to abstain as they did not consider any candidate deserving enough.

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Polling officials were taken by surprise when some half a dozen voters came down to their polling booths and demanded endorsement of their right to reject all candidates in the fray in Gorakhpur.

The incident occurred in the Janata Intermediate College in Chargava area of this city in eastern Uttar Pradesh where 60-year-old Draupadi Mani Tripathi, her son Dhananjay Mani Tripathi and daughter-in-law Nutan Tripathi went up to the presiding officer seeking to exercise their right to reject under the provisions of Rule 49 (O) of the Representation of People Act.

Even though such a right was not enshrined in the ballot system, the rule prescribes for a register to be kept at polling stations in which any voter is entitled to express his wish not to vote for any of the candidates in the fray.

“We do not find anyone listed in the ballot sheet capable to be elected as our representative. Therefore, we wish to reject all of them. Kindly put this on record,” the three members of the Tripathi family stated in the register.

Close on their heels, three other young men from the locality also followed course at the same polling centre. These were Himanshu, Mohan and Ankit – all in their twenties – who felt that each of the contestants in the fray was “undeserving”.

Commenting on the incident, Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said: “Rule 49 (O) entitles a voter to put on record that he or she wishes to abstain from voting; and this is formally taken into account in the electoral records.”