What is NOTA? How can one cast a NOTA Vote?

This Article discusses an important right that is provided to you by Election Commission of India by the permission from the Supreme Court of India. This important right is known as NOTA vote, abbreviated as “None of the Above” vote.

NOTA Vote:

Nota Vote

The idea of a “None of the above” option was first originated in 1976 when the Isla Vista Municipal Advisory Council passed a resolution to put forward this choice in the official electoral ballot, in County of Santa Barbara, California, in the USA. The NOTA Vote option was introduced for the first time, in 1978, in the elections held by Nevada State. (Source: Wikipedia)

Talking of India, the Election Commission in 2009 asked for the permission of providing a “None of the above” option for voters from the Supreme Court as it would give voters the choice of not casting their vote to any of the undeserving candidate, which was opposed by the government. Though a NGO named “People’s Union for Civil Liberties”, filed a legal proceeding statement in support of this.

On 27th Sep’13, the Supreme Court of India ruled in favour of Election Commission of India that the right to cast a “none of the above” vote in elections should enforce and ordered the Election Commission to provide a button for the same in the Electronic Voting Machines.

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The Election Commission of India makes it clear that the votes cast as NOTA are counted but they are deemed invalid votes and hence it will not affect the outcome of the election result. They are not taken into account for calculating the total valid votes and will not be considered for determining the forfeiture of security deposit. Thus in short, a NOTA is a vote which you will cast or may have cast in case you do not found any of the above party or, candidate suitable enough to lead.


Need for NOTA:

It happens quiet a sometimes that a voter do not found any of the candidates suitable enough or does not support anyone in the election, and have no choice but to vote for any one. According to the judges of the Supreme Court of India, the introduction of ‘None of the above’ i.e. NOTA option to voters would ultimately bring the positive change in the whole polling procedure and that the political parties will also be forced to elect genuine candidates. In a voting system, the voter should be given the right to dis-select all of the candidates. The main purpose of introducing this option is to give voters the power to reject all candidates listed in the EVM, whom they do not like. The political parties in that case will be left with no option other than to elect genuine candidates on their behalf in the elections.

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It is very clear that the Supreme Court of India wants to force the political parties to stand or elect genuine candidates with clean background, because the candidates who reach to the top of all will ultimately become the part of the system running the government.

Some of the countries who initially opted for NOTA votes, later banned it. May be the reason behind it is that, in countries where EVMs have a NOTA button, there is a possibility that NOTA votes accounts for more than the votes casted to the candidates. In that scenario, an Election Commission have only these three options-

  • To keep the office vacant, or
  • To fill office by appointment, or
  • To hold another election.

How to cast NOTA Vote and how does it goes in India?

All Electronic Voting Machines in India now have a button for casting NOTA Vote at the end of the candidates’ list. In the past, when a voter don’t want to cast their vote to any of the candidates then they had to first convey their regard to the presiding officer present at the polling booth. With this NOTA vote button, the need for the involvement of the presiding officer has eliminated.

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The option for NOTA was first put into use last year in the assembly elections held in five states. More than 1.5 million voters opt for NOTA in these state elections. However, it was less than 1.5% of the total voters who casted their vote. Around 50,000 voters opted for NOTA in Delhi; 3.56 lakh in Chhattisgarh; 5.9 lakh in Madhya Pradesh and 5.67 lakh in Rajasthan

In 2014 General Elections, around 1.1% of the votes counted are NOTA which accounts to over 6 million.

I hope you like this Article and you gained some knowledge on NOTA Vote. You can use it in your upcoming State Assembly Elections (if any) if you don’t find any suitable or, deserving candidate.

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