Rule 49-O is a rule in The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 of India, which governs elections in the country. It describes the procedure to be followed when a valid voter decides not to cast his vote, and decides to record this fact. The apparent purpose of this section is to prevent the election fraud or the misuse of votes The Truth about 49-O:
If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark. This Infers that in no case will there be a re polling in the said constituency, however the negative/neutral vote is registered and counted so as to cross check on the total number of votes polled. VoteIndia.in encourages Voters to cast a protest vote in case they feel there is no right candidate to vote for.
Here is what the Election Commission has to say on NEGATIVE / NEUTRAL VOTING:
The Commission has received proposals from a very large number of individuals and organizations that there should be a provision enabling a voter to reject all the candidates in the constituency if he does not find them suitable. In the voting using the conventional ballot paper and ballot boxes, an elector can drop the ballot paper without marking his vote against any of the candidates, if he chooses so. However, in the voting using the Electronic Voting Machines, such a facility is not available to the voter. Although, Rule 49 O of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 provides that an elector may refuse to vote after he has been identified and necessary entries made in the Register of Electors and the marked copy of the electoral roll, the secrecy of voting is not protected here inasmuch as the polling officials and the polling agents in the polling station get to know about the decision of such a voter.
The Commission recommends that the law should be amended to specifically provide for negative / neutral voting. For this purpose, Rules 22 and 49B of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 may be suitably amended adding a provision that in the ballot paper and the particulars on the ballot unit, in the column relating to names of candidates, after the entry relating to the last candidate, there shall be a column none of the above, to enable a voter to reject all the candidates, if he chooses so. Such a proposal was earlier made by the Commission in 2001 (vide letter dated 10.12.2001).
(A petition by the People is Union for Civil Liberties seeking such a provision filed at the time of the recent general elections is pending before the Honíble Supreme Court)