Electoral Reforms : NOTA

NOTA – None of the Above

NOTA is designed to allow the voter to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in a voting system. It is based on the principle that consent requires the ability to withhold consent in an election, just as they can by voting no on ballot questions.

  • The Supreme Court had upheld the right of voters to reject all candidates contesting the elections, saying it would go a long way in cleansing the political system of the country.
  • The court had directed the Election Commission to have an option of ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) on the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and ballot papers in a major electoral reform.
  • The EVMs have the NOTA option at the end of the candidates’ list. Earlier, in order to cast a negative ballot, a voter had to inform the presiding officer at the polling booth. A NOTA vote doesn’t require the involvement of the presiding officer.
  • In the Indian general election, 2014, NOTA polled 1.1% of the votes, counting to over 6 million.

Before NOTA:

  • Before the NOTA option came in existence, people casting negative votes were required to enter their names in a register and cast their vote on a separate paper ballot.
  • Under Section 49 (O) of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, a voter could enter his electoral serial number in Form 17A and cast a negative vote. The presiding officer would then put a remark in the form and get it signed by the voter. This was done to prevent fraud or misuse of votes.
  • This provision was, however, deemed unconstitutional by the SC as it did not protect the identity of the voter.

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