Gujarat Assembly has passed a bill to make voting mandatory in the local polls. (TOI Link). Some of the excerpts are as follows.
The Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009 was passed by voice vote. Under the bill, if a voter fails to vote for the reasons other than prescribed in the rules, he may be declared a "defaulter voter" and would face consequences for which rules will be framed and placed before the assembly for its approval later. "It is observed that due to low turnout of voters to discharge their duty by exercising their right to vote, the true spirit of the will of the people is not reflected in the electoral mandate," said the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.
Now this has been welcomed by some that this will counter the recent trends of lower voter turnouts. Personally I feel that this is wrong. Democracy is about freedom of choosing for one self. And not voting is also a choice for some for whatever the reason they may have. According to me forced voting very much defeats the idea of democracy. And I still don't get how making everyone vote will improve the governance. This bill seems more draconian than democratic. I am not a legal person but I am sure mandatory voting would go against the basic Fundamental right of Freedom of Expression.
Opinions may differ on this issue.
Update - 20.12.2009
P.S. Apparently 40% of the legislators, including the CM & some other ministers, were absent when the bill was passed. Talk about hypocrisy.