The Election Commission’s clarification that if the number of voters exercising the none-of-the-above option in the electronic voting machines or ballot papers exceeds the votes polled by any of the candidates, the candidate with the highest number of votes will be declared elected (Oct. 29) is disappointing. It has dampened the hopes of the electorate.
When the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to provide the option in EVMs, one thought it would bring about sweeping changes in our political scene, and all parties would be forced to field good candidates. But the power given to the voter by NOTA has been virtually negated by the Election Commission. The Supreme Court should intervene and come out with a clarification on its ruling.
The Election Commission’s clarification renders NOTA useless. All that the voters can do is express their dissatisfaction over the candidates fielded from a constituency. Suitable amendments should be brought in to give enough respect and effect to the sentiments expressed by voters opting for NOTA. This may not bring about a drastic change but it will mark the beginning of our journey towards strengthening democracy.
The Election Commission’s clarification contradicts the purpose of NOTA.
If NOTA is going to make no difference to the election outcome, the spirit of the court verdict will stand nullified.
NOTA will be effective only if it results in no candidate getting elected from a constituency if the number of no-vote is more than the votes cast in favour of anyone. Only then will political parties think twice before nominating candidates.
If most voters exercise the no-vote option, how can a candidate be declared elected? It is tantamount to declaring NOTA votes invalid, which definitely would not have been the intent of the Supreme Court when it gave its ruling in the matter.
The very purpose of NOTA is to compel political parties to field good, acceptable candidates in the election. But after the Election Commission’s clarification, one wonders what the purpose of providing the NOTA button in the EVMs is.