What is NOTA?
NOTA stands for “None Of The Above”. It signifies right of voters to reject all candidates contesting the elections. In 2013, SC upheld this right and directed Election Commission to have an option of NOTA on EVMs and ballot papers. It is considered as a major reform which will go a long way in cleansing political system of the country.
NOTA will not impact election results:
In its landmark judgment in September 2013 ordering the inclusion of the NOTA option, the Supreme Court had clarified that a NOTA count would not invalidate an election and the highest-polling candidate would be declared elected. With this, the voter only gets a method to register discontent.
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.
Why it is bad?
- Even if majority people vote for NOTA, the next highest majority candidate will be elected. So, in the strictest sense it does not give any chance to reject or disqualify candidates.
Which other countries allow NOTA?
Colombia, Ukraine, Brazil, Bangladesh, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Chile, France, Belgium and Greece allow their voters to cast NOTA votes. The US also allows it in a few cases. The state of Texas in the US permits the provision since 1975. The option, however, has faced opposition there.
Though NOTA option has no effect on the results, it is definitely a good step because it gives people the right to express their opinion regarding the contestants. It would also lead to decriminalization of politics. Hence, NOTA should be considered as the first step in the right direction.