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What is Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Elections, in a nutshell?

There are a couple of different explanations that people have adopted to make sense of 49-O, the one we found most convincing was posted by a Lawyer based in Mumbai. Iíve tried to keep this as simple as possible, so as not to read like a government regulation.

Prior to 1992, India voted physically, not electronically. So every single vote was accounted for on paper, given the fact that the voter was signed into the polling station physically and a ballot paper with the selected candidate was physically accepted from him/her. Today, India votes electronically.

Now given the present scenario, a voter is physically signed into the station but votes privately, by pressing a button on the EVM (Electronic Voting Machine). What stops him from NOT pressing that button in the event that he doesnít wish to vote for the contesting candidature. This STILL isn't where the problem lies. Now you have X number of people signed in, and X-1 votes. Nobody can trace who didnít vote, hence that vote can be misused. It is for this reason that Rule 49-O exists. Via this rule, a voter is given an opportunity to sign a separate form (Form 17-A), and submit it to the presiding officer, thereby putting this decision on record. This clears up the haze when votes are being tallied.

And this is by far, the only purpose of Rule 49-o of the Conduct of Elections in India.

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