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 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.