Secrecy of Ballot
Secrecy of ballot is the cornerstone of free and fair elections, the choice of a voter should be free and the secret ballot system in a democracy ensures it, the Supreme Court has held in a judgement.
What is ‘secrecy of ballot’?
- It is a voting method in which a voter’s choices in an election are anonymous, 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.
- Section 94 of the Representation of People Act upholds the privilege of the voter to maintain confidentiality about her choice of vote.
- However, a voter can also voluntarily waive the privilege of non-disclosure. The privilege ends when the voter decides to waive the privilege and instead volunteers to disclose as to whom she had voted.
- 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.
- The High Court had found that some of the panchayat members had violated the rule of secrecy of ballot. It relied on CCTV footage to conclude that they had either displayed the ballot papers or by their conduct revealed the manner in which they had voted.