The Election Commission has ordered the Chief Electoral Officers of all States and Union territories to provide for ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and ballot papers.
While Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath had made it clear earlier this month that the NOTA option would be available to the five Assembly election-bound States, the modalities of its inclusion had been specified in a communication issued on Friday.
The option will be provided at the bottom of the panel on the EVMs or as the last row in the ballot paper after all the candidates have been listed with their respective symbols in the same language used to list the candidates. Likewise, the contours of the NOTA panel will be identical to that given to each candidate.
In constituencies with 16 candidates in the fray, an extra EVM will be attached to the first balloting unit for the NOTA option as the EVMs currently in use can accommodate only 16 rows. The NOTA votes will be counted and indicated in the final result chart.
The EC has clarified that in the extreme case of the NOTA option polling more votes than any of the candidates in the fray, the candidate who gets the maximum number of votes will be declared the winner.
The NOTA option was made mandatory by the Supreme Court last month so that people who did not want to vote for any of the candidates in their respective constituencies had the option of rejecting all of them without giving up their right to a secret vote.