What is NOTA and how effective is it?
It is 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 Lok Sabha elections, EVMs are used in all the Lok Sabha 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 pilot basis in Lok Sabaha elections of 8 parliamentary constituencies in 2014.
What is NOTA?
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.
So 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.
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.
How effective NOTA is?
Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi had said, "If 99 out of 100 votes are given to NOTA and just a single vote is given to a candidate then this candidate will be declared winner.
Know another example; even if the security of all the candidates of an assembly or a Lok Sabha constituency is forfeited due to maximum vote to NOTA, in such condition also the candidate who gets the maximum votes will be declared winner.
Many times it has been noticed that NOTA gets more votes than all the candidates in the fray. 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% 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 to hold elections again in those constituencies where victory margin is less than the total numbers of NOTA or if the winning candidates have failed to get a third vote of total votes.
Now will be a Fictional Electoral Candidate;
In a landmark decision the Haryana Election Commission had treated 'None-of-the-above' or NOTA option as a "fictional candidate" in municipal polls from December 2018. Now "NOTA” will be treated as a fictional electoral candidate.
If all the contesting candidates individually receive less votes than “NOTA” none of the candidates will be declared elected. The elections will be cancelled and held afresh.
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.
Therefore, the right to the NOTA started by the Election Commission and giving it the status of fictional electoral candidate is an excellent move to strengthen the democracy. I think this step will make political parties more responsible to solve the problems of the voters.