Compulsory voting in local body elections - A right step by Gujarat?

Compulsory voting in local body elections – A right step by Gujarat?

The new bill named as “The Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill-2009” has been approved by Gujarat’s newly appointed Governor OP Kohli. The state government has also issued a notification for its implementation. The newly amended bill is attracting controversies from the different sections whether it is the economists, political parties, educational institutes or local masses. The new bill has made Gujarat as the first state where voting in local body elections is made compulsory. Did Gujarat make a right decision by making voting compulsory in local body elections?


• The low turnout of voters is the prime reason why the right candidates do not get selected in the election process.

• Gujarat has made voting compulsory but has also mentioned a list of rules that allows the voter to refrain from voting.

• It is an important step as people will be more aware of the importance and happenings at elections of municipalities, municipal corporations, and panchayats.

• The voters have a choice of NOTA, and therefore in no way they are forced to vote for any of the political party or candidate.

• Compulsory voting has a merit as the voting turnout was dismal at the very local municipal level in Gujarat.

• The compulsory voting in Gujarat can prompt other states to take the same step especially when voter turnout in Maharashtra polls was as low as 55% and it was just 48% in the Lok Sabha elections in the state.


• Compulsory voting is straight away violation of the freedom that Indians enjoy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

• Compulsory voting violates the spirit of democracy and harms the well-framed democratic structure of India.

• The ruling government entering into a controversy by making voting compulsory against citizens’ conscience and that too by using means of coercion.

• The bill is drafted poorly as it combines two different issues compulsory voting and women’s reservation in local elections under one heading.

• Rights never imply obligations. People have right to vote but that doesn’t means that it has to be exercised at any cost.

• Before making voting compulsory for general masses, the government should better make attendance of members compulsory at all levels and in all forms of legislative bodies.

• Australia has the system of compulsory voting but the law has not made it a more politically engaged country.

• A voluntary atmosphere to choose right candidate is more important than compulsory voting. It can be seen in Bengal where voter turnout in Panchayat polls is between 90% -95%.

• Compulsory voting will only harm the poor people and the labour class especially daily wagers who need to work every single day to earn their livelihood.


Have anyone thought what is the reason behind voting rights being restricted to adults? Well, the answer comes in two simple words: Informed choice. It is assumed that adults can make a better decision. When all adults, irrespective of gender, education, caste, creed are given the option to vote on their will by India’s constitution, Gujarat has no right to impose it on local citizens. The government can force people to vote but the prime question will remain same - will the democratic structure or the quality of politicians will improve by this compulsion?
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  • RE: Compulsory voting in local body elections – A right step by Gujarat? -manish (11/15/14)
  • Thank you for pointing out some of the really important aspects in terms of pros and cons of compulsory voting. I would like to add that since it is a compulsory voting the aim of turnout is not strictly 100 %. The law is made by also takin into consideration of daily wage workers and other working class people which may not be able to vote due to some compulsory work. But for those who has time and they can come without any problem should go to vote so that society can be improved by electing a better representative. Untill and unless all people participate in the betterment it cannot be possible. I think it is not against democracy. I agree that in this democracy we got the freedom but freedom is not meant to degrade the system. It is a democracy which also encourages you to particiate in the betterment of other as well.