ias-toppers-NOTA
Editorial Notes

NOTA (None Of The Above) and the Indian voter

So far, a small number of Indian voters have come to see NOTA as an instrument of protest. This electoral option will become a meaningful means of negative voting only if it becomes a ‘right to reject’ rather than being a symbolic instrument to express resentment as it is now.
By IT's Editorial Board
February 28, 2017

 

GS (M) Paper-2: Topics related to Election reforms
GS (M) Paper-2: “Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.”

 

NOTA (None Of The Above) and the Indian voter

What is NOTA?

  • None Of The Above (NOTA) is a ballot option designed to allow the voter to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in a voting system.
  • It was introduced in India following the 2013 Supreme Court directive in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India judgment.
  • Thus, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting.
  • However, NOTA in India does not provide for a ‘right to reject’.
  • The candidate with the maximum votes wins the election irrespective of the number of NOTA votes polled.

iastoppers NOTA

Current Patterns involving NOTA:

  • The introduction of the ‘None of The Above’ (NOTA) option in the Indian electoral system has seen three years, one Lok Sabha election and four rounds of Assembly elections pass.
  • NOTA polling figures are still small.
  • In the 2013 Assembly elections held in four States NOTA constituted 1.85% of the total votes polled.
  • Then it dropped to 0.95% in the 2014 Assembly elections held in eight States.
  • It increased to 2.02% in the 2015 Assembly elections held in Delhi and Bihar. While Delhi polled a mere 0.40%, Bihar saw 2.49% of NOTA votes, which remains the highest NOTA votes polled so far in any State in Assembly elections.
  • The number of NOTA votes polled was larger than the winning margin in 261 Assembly constituencies and in 24 constituencies in the Lok Sabha elections since 2013.
  • Therefore, in these constituencies the NOTA votes did make a difference to the election results.
  • NOTA polling figures are still small.
  • On an average, the maximum NOTA vote share has not crossed 2.02% of the total votes polled in any election cycle.
  • The 2016 Assembly elections also saw some active canvassing for NOTA.

Important observations regarding NOTA:

  • Reserved constituencies have seen a relatively larger number of NOTA votes, which points to the continued social prejudice against political reservation for SC/STs.
  • Constituencies affected by left-wing extremism have also recorded higher NOTA performance and here probably it served as an instrument of protest against the State itself.
  • Overall, Indian voters seem to be using NOTA not just to show their disapproval of the candidates in the fray but to express their protest against many things they perceive wrong in the political system.

Conclusion:

  • The early trends of NOTA need to be explored further with more elaborate statistical and ethnographic analysis.
  • So far, a small number of Indian voters have come to see NOTA as an instrument of protest.
  • This electoral option will become a meaningful means of negative voting only if it becomes a ‘right to reject’ rather than being a symbolic instrument to express resentment as it is now.
  • A PIL has already been filed in Madras High Court seeking the full right to reject in place of NOTA.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

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