While the Supreme Court’s direction to the Election Commission that it include the ‘none-of-the-above’ option in electronic voting machines made NOTA a positive exercise to express dissatisfaction with candidates fielded by political parties, the Election Commission has brought things to square one by clarifying that the candidate polling the highest number of votes will be declared elected, notwithstanding the number of NOTA votes polled.
Theoretically, a candidate securing one vote against 10 lakh NOTA votes will be declared the winner. Is this democracy? A mechanism must be developed to accommodate the implication of NOTA.
The Supreme Court pointed out that NOTA would ensure better voter turnout. But the Election Commission has rendered NOTA ineffective by clarifying that the candidate getting the highest number of votes will be declared the winner. Why should those who wish to express their dissatisfaction with the candidates take the trouble of going to the polling booth? They might as well sit at home and enjoy the holiday.
When the Supreme Court gave its verdict on NOTA, the country thought a key electoral reform had been ushered in. It was felt the reform would put a check on political parties’ selection of candidates.
After the clarification by the Election Commission, can we expect voters to come all the way to the polling booth just to express their dissatisfaction — despite knowing that it will not matter in any way? NOTA should be made functional in the true sense.
The Election Commission’s clarification does not render the NOTA option useless. If we have a larger number of citizens participating in the elections and the majority exercises the no-vote option, the elected candidate will know that she has won despite people’s lack of trust in her. This will force her to duly perform the duties of an elected representative.
Yashaswi M. Gundi,
If all candidates from a constituency are rejected, what is to be done? Will a new set of candidates be acceptable? It might not be possible at all. Moreover, NOTA might be the winner in several constituencies if voters cannot choose a candidate or a party. The Election Commission’s decision is pragmatic.