NOTA- Power Of A Common Man in Democracy
The full form of NOTA is ‘None of the Above’. Many times it has been observed that if people do not want to vote for any candidate due to any local issue problems such as electricity, water, roads or criminal records of the candidate, then how will they register their protest so to empower the voice of the voters the Election Commission of developed a mechanism in the voting system so that people can get the right to reject all the candidates.
In other common words basically, NOTA gives the right to voters in any constituency that if they do not want to vote for any of the candidates contesting the election; they can push the button of NOTA mentioned in the EVMs.
We must Keep in mind that the votes given to the NOTA are counted but they are considered illegal votes, i.e. NOTA votes don’t have any role in the result of the elections.
It was observed that a lot of voters don’t find any suitable candidate in their constituency so they want to boycott the elections. But there was no provision to boycott the elections legally. Hence to empower such voter the Election commission of India introduced the concept of NOTA in the EVMs in December 2013 elections. EVMs were first used in India in the North Paravur constituency of Kerala in 1982, and since the 2004 LokSabha elections, EVMs are used in all the LokSabha and Assembly Elections in India.
To eliminate the possibility of the election fraud EC had introduced the concept of Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) on a pilot basis in LokSabha elections of 8 parliamentary constituencies in 2014.
Many times it has been noticed that NOTA gets more votes than all the candidates in the fray. We also have seen that in the Gujarat assembly elections, the NOTA gets more votes than any other political party except Congress and BJP.In the recent Gujarat assembly elections, more than 5.5 lakh or 1.8% of voters had pressed the NOTA button. In many Assembly constituencies, the winning margin was lesser than the total NOTA votes.
Former Chief Election Commissioner of India, TS Krishnamurthy has recommended for holding elections in those constituencies where victory margin is less than the total numbers of NOTA or if the winning candidates have failed to get the third vote of total votes.
The candidates securing lesser votes than NOTA would not be eligible to file nominations for fresh polls to be held later. If a contesting candidate and the NOTA both receive equal valid votes, the candidate shall be declared elected.
At last in the conclusion, the right to the NOTA started by the Election Commission and giving it the status of the fictional electoral candidate is an excellent move to strengthen the democracy.