The Election Commission on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court order directing it to add “None of the Above” (NOTA) button in the EVM. The button will give voters the option of not voting for any candidate. The secrecy of voters who prefer that choice would be protected, the EC said.

Earlier, voters opting for the NOTA option — Rule 49 (O) — did not enjoy secrecy as they had to record it by filling up a form in front of the poll officials/election agents, EC sources said.

An official added: “But it is a delicate thing to implement the SC verdict. The very purpose of constituting the EC is to hold polls and encourage voters to come and vote in large numbers as part of democracy. So if we do vigorous campaign for NOTA, the purpose will get defeated and then the candidates/people will think that the poll body is asking voters not to vote. At the same time we cannot remain silent by not highlighting availability of the NOTA option to the voters.”

An EC press release said the button would be available below the name of the last candidate in the EVM and the number of voters who opt for it announced during declaration of results.

Asked what would happen if majority of the voters opt for NOTA, the official said in an election those getting the most number of votes would be declared elected.

Another ballot unit with the NOTA sticker would be added if there were exactly 16 candidates in fray. This arrangement would be necessary since an EVM ballot unit can accommodate only a maximum of 16 buttons.

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