Indian General Elections

NOTA: The Democratic Right To Negative Voting. Without Electoral Value, What Does It Achieve?

Written By Suchitra Karthikeyan | Mumbai | Published:

The Lok Sabha elections have evoked strong opinions among the citizens with many taking a stance for one or the party, inspired by a single leadership or more principled party leadership, by tall claims of sops or nationalism, by independence or progress and many other such factors.

But there are a few who are dissatisfied with every available politician eyeing to lead the nation. For them, the golden option of NOTA (None Of The Above) seems ideal. Let us know more about the NOTA option which has been buzzing around many voters' minds who don't agree with Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi - asking then who?

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What is NOTA?

None of the Above (NOTA) option is the right of voters to reject all candidates contesting the elections and is available in the EVM and the ballot papers, as per the Supreme Court's 2013 directive to the Election Commission.

What value does NOTA have?

NOTA is a negative feedback option for voters to voice out their dissatisfaction. It holds no electoral value i.e. even if the maximum votes are for NOTA, the candidate with maximum vote share will still be the winner.

So if it is has no electoral value, what does it achieve?

As per the Supreme Court's judgment ratifying the NOTA option, the option encourages voters who are not satisfied with any of the candidates to turn up and express their disaffection towards all candidates.

"Negative voting will lead to a systemic change in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates. If the right to vote is a statutory right, then the right to reject a candidate is a fundamental right of speech and expression under the Constitution," said the bench delivering the judgment.

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Prior to NOTA, the voter's decision to not cast a vote had been specified in rule number 49(0) of the Election rules. The reason to not cast the vote was to be specified by the voter though Form 17A - which was to be submitted to poll officials, violating the privacy of the secret ballot. NOTA which annulled the above rule ensured the confidentiality of the reason as to why the voter had rejected all candidates.

With the introduction of NOTA, India joined Colombia, Ukraine, Brazil, Bangladesh, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Chile, France, Belgium, Greece and US (conditionally in some states) to allow voter to reject all candidates.

While many parties have asked for re-polling in case NOTA wins the majority of the votes, the EC and the SC have not amended the rule as of date.