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
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
- 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.
- 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.
Q1. With reference to the Force majeure, consider the following
1. It refers to an extraordinary events and circumstances beyond human
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
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.