1.29 crore voters chose NOTA in five years

In Lok Sabha elections 2019, the new option had 1.06% takers

GN Bureau | August 4, 2022


#Elections   #NOTA   #politics   #ADR  
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)

None-of-the-above, or NOTA – the option introduced for voters in 2013 when they don’t want to support any of the candidate – has made some progress. In the past five years, NOTA has secured 1,29,77,627 votes in state assembly elections and Lok Sabha election, according to an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

NOTA was introduced in India through the Supreme Court’s judgment dated 27th September 2013 in WP (C) No. 161 of 2004, (People's Union for Civil Liberties and another Vs. the Union of India and another).

The SC directed the Election Commission to make necessary provision in the ballot papers/EVMs and provide a button for 'None of the Above' (NOTA) in EVMs so that the voters who come to the polling booth and decide not to vote for any of the candidates in the fray, are able to exercise their right not to vote while maintaining their right to secrecy.

The provision of the NOTA button was first implemented in the assembly elections of Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh in 2013.

In a new report, ADR and National Election Watch (NEW) has analysed the number of votes secured by NOTA in various elections since 2018. [The full report can be accessed here: https://adrindia.org/content/analysis-votes-polled-nota-lok-sabha-and-state-assembly-elections-2018-2022]

Among other highlights of the report:

* On average, NOTA has secured 64,53,652 votes (64.53 lakhs) in the state assembly elections.

* In Lok Sabha 2019 elections, NOTA secured 65,23,975 (1.06%) votes. The highest number of votes (51,660) was in Gopalganj (SC) constituency in Bihar. The lowest number (100) was in Lakshadweep.

* In assembly elections, NOTA secured the highest percentage of votes in 2020. It was 1.46% (7,49,360 votes) in the assembly elections of Bihar (7,06,252 votes) and NCT Delhi (43,108 votes).

* NOTA has secured lowest percentage of votes in 2022: 0.70% (8,15,430 votes) in the five assembly elections (combined) of Goa (10,629), Manipur (10,349), Punjab (1,10,308), Uttar Pradesh (6,37,304) and Uttarakhand (46,840).

* NOTA secured the highest number of votes in Maharashtra assembly elections 2019 (7,42,134 votes) and the lowest number of votes in Mizoram polls of 2018 (2,917 votes).

* NOTA secured the highest percentage of vote share, 1.98%, in the Chhattisgarh assembly elections, 2018.

* NOTA secured the lowest percentage of vote share, i.e., 0.46% in both Delhi 2020 and Mizoram 2018.

* Constituency wise, NOTA has secured as high as 27,500 votes in the Latur Rural constituency of Maharashtra and as low as 9 votes in the Tali constituency of Arunachal Pradesh.

* In a few constituencies of Arunachal Pradesh such as Dirang, Along East, Yachuli and one constituency in Nagaland, Northern Angami-ii, there was only one candidate, that is, there were no rival candidates, and therefore secured no votes.

* In ‘red alert’ constituencies – that is, where three or more candidates with criminal cases contesting elections – NOTA has secured 26,77,616 votes in state assembly elections since 2018.

* NOTA has secured the highest percentage of votes in ‘red alert’ constituencies of Bihar – 1.63% votes (6,11,122) in 217 such constituencies.

Recommendations

In any constituency, if votes polled for NOTA are higher than all the contesting candidates then the following steps should be taken:

• No candidates should be declared as elected,

• Fresh election should be conducted, in which none of the earlier candidates should be allowed to contest, and

• In the fresh elections, only a candidate who gets at least 50%+1 of the votes cast should be declared elected.

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