Indian Election

NOTA: voters’ power

Whenever citizens go for voting, they choose a better candidate to vote for. But what if there is no better candidate? What all if all those candidates are corrupt and not clean?

There was no way before that anyone was allowed to reject or disagree with the candidate. It’s always been an issue with democracy that people generally not find a suitable candidate.

What if there was a way that you can reject or some way signal disagreement with candidates?

On 27 September 2013, Election Commission of India approached the Supreme Court with a request to offer the NOTA (None Of The Above) option in the ballot box. With NOTA, India became the 14th country to establish negative voting.

Tough NOTA in India don’t provide with a ‘right to reject’ the candidate. Hence its only negative feedback kind of mechanism for now.

NOTA does not hold any electoral value. Even if max votes go to NOTA, the candidate with maximum vote share will still be the winner.

You may ask if so is it even used by citizens? Do they really stand in long queue to just reject candidates which anyway going to come to power?

The answer is Yes may citizens use NOTA and it’s getting popular day by day. The result of Observations have indicated that NOTA has influenced more citizens to participate in voting.

As NOTA being used in elections, Political parties will realize that a huge number of voters are expressing their disappointment with the candidate, the political parties will give priority to project only the honest candidates.

citizens will leave the hint of their disappointment that they don’t find any candidate as deserving. This will increase the polling percentage as the voters are given a way to express their disappointment through the vote.

Many times, NOTA has received more votes than margin by which candidate has won the election. We hope that popularity of NOTA will grow and people will use NOTA to reflect their lack of confidence on candidates.

  • In the 2017 Gujarat Assembly Elections, the Vote share of NOTA was only lesser than BJP, Congress, and Independent Candidates.
  • In the 2018 Karnataka Assembly Elections, NOTA got more votes than some parties like CPI and BSP.
  • In the 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections, NOTA pulled 1.4% which was higher than 0.1% margin difference vote between BPJ (winning) and Congress party.

There are many groups and individuals been conducting awareness campaigns about NOTA.

As NOTA doesn’t have any impact on the result as a candidate with the highest votes will be chosen. It’s not that effective as it should be but we hope in future EC will make some changes in NOTA. Though, NOTA will keep reflecting the dissatisfaction of citizens for the political parties and their candidates.

There have been PILs filed to strengthen NOTA like following:

  • Providing it the power to Reject candidates.
  • Asking for re-elections if NOTA wins.
  • Restricting the rejected candidates from contesting.

However, the Supreme Court responded by saying that above points are unattainable and because holding an election in our country is a very tough & expensive job.

Sometime voters might feel like why they should waste their time in a long queue to vote for NOTA when it doesn’t affect the results. Their votes will be ignored completely and candidates with who they dissatisfied will be voted to power anyway.

Election Vote

Let’s hope someday EC will find the best way to address issues/gaps of NOTA. We still think it’s better to vote for NOTA then voting for wrong candidates. As elections are coming, Please use your power of vote to choose a better person for our country.

Keep voting. Keep NOTA in mind.

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