Secrecy of vote
Recently, the Supreme Court of India held that in any election, be it to Parliament or State legislature, the maintenance of secrecy of voting is “a must”.
What is Secrecy of Vote? Do you think elections are conducted in India in Secret? If not, how can elections be conducted secretly and also protect voters’ privacy? Discuss
Background of the Issue
● The judgment came on an appeal against the Allahabad High Court decision setting aside the voting of a no-confidence motion in a Zila panchayat in Uttar Pradesh in 2018.
● A no-confidence motion or vote of no-confidence or a no-trust vote can be sought to express that there is no longer confidence in the government.
● Allahabad High court had found that some of the panchayat members had violated the rule of secrecy of the ballot.
What is the Secret Vote?
● The secret vote/ secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter’s choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous.
● It aims for forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote-buying.
● The system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy.
Salient Features of the Judgement:
● Secrecy of ballots: It is an important part of constitutional democracy and the law must protect the right of voters to the secrecy of the ballot.
● Section 94 of Representation of People Act which upholds the privilege of the voter to maintain confidentiality about her choice of vote.
● Exception: A voter can voluntarily waive the privilege of non-disclosure. Hence,the privilege ends when the voter decides to waive it and decides voluntarily to disclose their vote
Measures to ensure fair and secret elections:
● Adopting totaliser: It mixes up votes of all the EVM’s installed in constituencies, thus making it difficult to trace voting patterns of individual booths.
● E-voting: A provision to be provided to caste your votes online which will keep the vote secret.
● Closely placed Booth: to ensure that all the citizens vote irrespective of their age and gender and the booths should be closely installed.
● Ensure non-availability of party members in the vicinity of the booth.
Given the right and privilege to cast our vote and be a part of the Nation’s growth, both voters and Election Commission should ensure fair and secret elections and thus formation of good governance.