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Home > Election Analysis > Pros and Cons of 'NOTA - None Of The Above

Pros and Cons of 'NOTA - None Of The Above

Next time when you go to vote, and if you feel that none of the candidates are worth for representing you, then there is no need to quit voting, just vote 'NOTA' or None Of The Above' to show your displeasure. 'NOTA' option now figures at the end of the list of candidates in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and the ballot papers.

'NOTA' is a powerful weapon now available to the people of India to exercise their electoral franchise. It ensures the secrecy to the voters so that they can vote against all candidates without any fear.

This option will reduce the alienation of voters who usually don't come to vote as they are not satisfied with the candidates, thereby sending a strong message to the political parties to field better candidates who are worthy of vote.

It is suggested that NOTA will help developing a better political culture in India. Now due to the fear of 'NOTA,' political parties will be forced to field candidates with clean image. The fear of NOTA would also force the political parties to maintain their credibility and sustain their image all through the time and not only during the elections.

Now with the NOTA option available, people may come out in large numbers to vote, especially those who don't come to vote as they don't like any candidates. This will surely help in increasing the voter percentage in elections. It will also help in choosing right the candidate having clean image.

NOTA would also strengthen freedom of speech and expression that is our fundamental right. Earlier people had no such option and cannot express themselves but now they can freely reject the candidate in complete privacy of secret ballot.

NOTA open the door for freedom of expression and a step closer to our representative democracy. India is not the first country to have such a system. It is already being followed in over 13 other countries. Their experience suggests that it has triggered healthy democracy. It connects the people closer to the political system besides maintaining the transparency and integrity of the electoral process.

The Election Commission had moved the law ministry in 2001 for introduction of NOTA option in EVMs. But the government took no initiative on this issue. This case then went to the Supreme Court for hearing in 2009. The SC in 2013 gave the verdict to include NOTA option in the EVMs.

The NOTA is quite different from the earlier practice of blank vote that was considered invalid vote, the votes under NOTA are counted and are valid votes.

The NOTA is different from 'right to reject.' In case if NOTA gets more than 50 percent of votes, still the candidate with less number of votes can win the election under first pass the post system. This means even if a candidate gets less than the majority of the votes, he can still end up as a winner. This is the biggest shortcoming of the NOTA as it does not insure victory for the best candidate.

So there is a need to amend certain electoral provisions in our constitution under the representation of people Act - 1951 to ensure that in case of majority of votes polled are NOTA, then fresh election has to be held and all those candidates contesting earlier should not be allowed to re-contest.

Although it will increase some financial burden, but it will ensure representation of better candidates as fresh set of candidates has to be fielded in re-election. If the Election Commission can ensure the proper implementation of NOTA, there is nothing more beneficial than its provision that empowers the people of the country. The NOTA certainly brings transparency in our electoral process and strengthen our democracy.

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