A 63-year-old retired school teacher in Kerala is rejoicing at the decision to introduce negative voting -- the "None of The Above" (NOTA) option was one he made provision for in a machine he made nearly 15 years ago.
A.R. Ramakrishnan Nair, retired teacher of Malayalam, had manufactured in 1999 a mechanical voting machine that would cost just a fourth of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) used by the Election Commission then. Nair had, that year, come out with the mechanical voting machine and approached the Election Commission of India with the idea of introducing the "negative vote".
"I never heard from them. Later, I approached the Kerala High Court. They too had no use for my petition. Now, the concept has at last been accepted, and I am pleased," Nair told IANS. Settled in Malappuram district of the state, Nair has established the Centre for Research in Mechanical Engineering (CRME) here, which first developed a mechanical voting machine in 1990.
"I conducted a survey with my machine, and it was then that I found that people wanted a 'negative vote' option. I successfully introduced that in my 'Janarekshak Voting Machine' in 1999.
At that time, the authorities would pay no heed to me, but it has now become a reality," Nair said. Nair explained that his mechanical device, when opened after votes have been polled, lists all candidates in a panel, and also lists the "negative votes" in a different column.
"In the electronic voting machine being used now, you get to see the votes only after a switch is pressed against each candidate. In my machine, there are two separate columns that display the votes secured by each candidate," Nair said.
He added that in 1999, while an electronic voting machine cost Rs.12,500, his machine could be made with less than Rs.3,000. He says his machine could be made even these days at less than Rs.5,000, while the print-out introduced in the new EVMs would push up their cost even further.
"I did not do anything with my machine since no one paid any heed to me then. But I am prepared to show it to anyone who wishes to know how the device works. I spent 12 years working on it, but now I am busy with other things," the retired teacher said.