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None of The Above (NOTA) votes

Topic covered:

  1. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

 

None of The Above (NOTA) votes

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Meaning of NOTA and features of RPA.
  • For Mains: Significance and the use of NOTA in direct elections, concerns of its use in indirect elections.

 

Context: Election Commission has release a report on NOTA votes cast in recent elections.

 

Key findings:

  • Bihar registered the maximum None of The Above (NOTA) votes of about 8 lakh, with the highest share of 5.04% reported from the Gopalganj constituency.
  • The high NOTA percentage was an indicator that people were frustrated with the state of affairs in their constituency, did not find any of the candidates worthy enough and therefore, even after reaching the polling station, decided to press the NOTA button.
  • In Andhra Pradesh, the fourth highest NOTA figure of 4.46%, involving 47,977 voters, was recorded in Araku and in only five constituencies of the State, was it below 1%.
  • Gujarat, where the highest of 3% was seen in Dahod, had only eight constituencies where the NOTA share was below 1%; while in Haryana, nine of the 10 seats registered less than 1% voters rejecting all candidates.
  • In as many as 23 constituencies of Karnakata, NOTA vote share was again less than 1% and the highest of 1.39% was in Uttara Kannada in the State. In Kerala and Delhi, all the constituencies had below 1% NOTA share.

 

The use of NOTA in elections:

The option of NOTA for Lok Sabha and assembly elections was prescribed by the SC in 2013. The option of NOTA in RS polls was introduced by the EC in 2014. Thus, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting.

 

How is a NOTA vote cast?

The EVMs have the NOTA option at the end of the candidates’ list. Earlier, in order to cast a negative ballot, a voter had to inform the presiding officer at the polling booth. A NOTA vote doesn’t require the involvement of the presiding officer.

 

Why have NOTA if there’s ‘no electoral value?

NOTA gives people dissatisfied with contesting candidates an opportunity to express their disapproval. This, in turn, increases the chances of more people turning up to cast their votes, even if they do not support any candidate, and decreases the count of bogus votes. Also, the Supreme Court has observed that negative voting could bring about “a systemic change in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates”.

 

Why NOTA is good?

  • NOTA option will force the political parties to select the honest candidates, i.e with no criminal records.
  • NOTA ensures people’s ‘right to freedom of speech and expression’.
  • This will increase the polling percentage.

 

Sources: the Hindu.