New Delhi: Vice President Hamid Ansari on Friday called for redressal of limitations in the country's electoral system on issues like right to reject and candidates winning not on the basis of majority but on plurality.

"For a mature democracy like ours, both these limitations of our electoral system require to be addressed," he said, addressing the National Voters Day on Friday.

Ansari said the right to reject would be preferable to abstention from voting and sought working out procedural modalities for implementing it in the country on the model of some democracies where it is in vogue.

With 82.68 percent candidates in the present Lok Sabha winning with less than 50 percent of the votes cast, Ansari said the system encourages candidates to focus on securing votes of a segment of the electorate that emphasise on social divisions.

Terming the "first-past-the-post system", in which the successful candidate wins on plurality rather than a majority of votes cast, as the second corrective in our electoral system, he said its limitation is evident from factual data available.

While the percentage of successful candidates securing less than 50 percent of votes cast in 1952 polls was 67.28 percent which went down to 58.09 percent in 1957, it has grown to 82.68 percent in the last Lok Sabha elections.

"When this percentage is considered alongside the average voter turn out, it would suggest that the elected representative may not, often is not, representative of his/her electoral constituency."

"This system encourages candidates to focus on securing votes of a segment of the electorate and thereby accentuate or reinforce social divisions based on narrower considerations that derogate from inclusiveness and promote divisive tendencies and social conflict," Ansari said.

Ansari said, "despite our achievements, we cannot rest on our laurels. Perfection is a matter of receding horizons. The experience of six decades propels us to examine it critically."

On the issue of right to reject, the Vice President said, "Such a conscious rejection would be preferable to abstention from voting. The procedural modalities for bringing this about can be worked out on the model of some of the democracies where it is in vogue."

Extending full support to the Election Commission, Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said the government remained "irrevocably committed to electoral reforms in a major way" and said the stage was set for revising democracy through such reforms that would check the use of money and muscle power in the electoral system and stop people with dubious credentials from contesting.

He said "irrespective of sharp and divergent views, there is unanimity in the electoral system," adding that "the government will move forward to bring about the process of electoral reforms.

Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said 2.32 crore new voters were added during the past year, of which 93 lakh were first-time voters in the age group of 18-19 years.

The Vice President also presented awards to Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal on Voters Day for all-round management of elections and to poll officials in various states for best electoral practices.

Sampath said around 6.5 lakh similar functions were organised by ECI across the country to mark the National Voters day.

A number of former Chief Election Commissioners including M S Gill, T S Krishnamurthy and S Y Quraishi were also present, besides members of the Forum of heads of election management bodies of SAARC countries.


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