THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 27 February 2020 (More psychological than an empowering voter option (The Hindu))

More psychological than an empowering voter option (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: NOTA System
Mains level: Highlights the NOTA system in India


  • The 2020 Delhi Assembly elections were the 45th Assembly polls since the inception of the NOTA option in 2013.
  • But, the meagre share of NOTA votes, and NOTA in its current form, are pointers to it being a toothless option.

What does some data reveal?

  • Delhi has now provided data from five elections with the NOTA option; no other state has yielded such a preference for yet.
  • But, Delhi’s preference to NOTA is less than the national average.
  • The percentage of NOTA votes has increased in 71% constituencies in 2019 than in 2015.
  • Roughly one in 200 voters of Delhi opted for NOTA in the last 6 to 7 years, with relatively larger support for NOTA in reserved constituencies.
  • In the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election, NOTA became a runner-up in two constituencies.

NOTA system of India:

  • In 2013, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting through NOTA. However, it is not a “right to reject”.
  • Even if there are 99 NOTA votes out of a total of 100, and candidate X gets just one vote, X is the winner, having obtained the only valid vote.
  • The rest of the NOTA votes will be treated as invalid or ‘no votes’.
  • NOTA enfeeble the electorate as it does not empower to “select” either.
  • It provides democratic means to express resentment anonymously rather than boycotting the polls outright.

The scope of NOTA:

  • A former Chief Election Commissioner recommended holding elections again in those constituencies where the victory margin is less than the total numbers of NOTA.
  • A PIL has been filed in Madras High Court seeking the full right to reject in place of NOTA.
  • In 2018, the Maharashtra State Election Commission (SEC) issued an order that if NOTA has received the highest number of valid votes, a fresh election shall be held for such a post.
  • The SEC of Haryana issued an order that if NOTA gets maximum vote, none of the “real” candidates will be declared elected.
  • The re-elections will be held afresh and the candidates securing votes less than NOTA would be barred from contesting in that re-election.

Can NOTA bring any significant change?

  • While introducing NOTA, the Supreme Court anticipated that there will be a systemic change.
  • It also predicted that the political parties will be forced to accept the will of the people and field candidates who are known for their integrity.
  • NOTA percentage should either increase to enforce the political parties to field candidates with “integrity”.
  • Or NOTA percentage should consistently decrease if the electorates feel that the system has achieved the desired level of cleansing.
  • In contrast, the share of NOTA votes in India remained around a meagre level of 1% on an average; 1.11% in the 2014 Lok Sabha, and 1.08% in 2019, if we consider constituency-wise averages.
  • This perhaps represents a confused state of mind of the electorate.

Way ahead:

  • The ECI may state that the candidates securing lesser votes than NOTA are barred from contesting in the next election from that constituency.
  • An experiment can be conducted by using NOTB (‘none of the below’) instead of NOTA, after changing the rule suitably, can be attempted.
  • This may help us whether such an option as the first on the electronic voting machine might produce a significantly different outcome or not.

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Prelims Questions:

Q1. With reference to the Force majeure, consider the following statements:
1. It refers to an extraordinary events and circumstances beyond human control.
2. It encompasses only natural reasons or an act of God.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: A
Mains Questions:
Q1. What is the NOTA system of India? What are the pleas to extend the scope of NOTA? Will NOTA bring any significant change? Comment.