There may be no correlation between a candidate’s margin of victory and the number of voters opting for “none of the above”, but those who lose by slender margins may rue the presence of the last button on the electronic voting machines.
At least 25 second-placed candidates in Tamil Nadu may have not been happy to see that the number of NOTA votes in their constituencies exceeded the margin of their defeat.
NOTA accounted for 1.3 per cent, or 5,61,244 votes of the total votes polled in the State in a closely fought Assembly election.
NOTA was ahead of Naam Tamilar Katchi (1.1 per cent), MDMK (0.9), CPI (0.8), VCK (0.8), CPI(M) (0.7), IUML (0.7), Tamil Maanila Congress (0.5), and Puthiya Tamilagam (0.5) .
In the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, 5,82,062 people, or 1.4 per cent of the votes polled, exercised the NOTA option.
In Tamil Nadu, NOTA ranged from 1,025 — in Kaatumannarkoil where Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi’s Thol. Thirumaavalavan lost by 87 votes — to 4,994 in Avadi where AIADMK’s Pandiarajan came back after trailing for a considerable number of rounds to win by 1,395 votes.
M. Appavu of the DMK, contesting at Radhapuram, lost by 49 votes — the number of NOTA votes were 1,821.
“It [NOTA] is not a rejection. In the era of ballot papers, a voter had the option to fold the paper without putting the seal if he or she did not want to vote for any candidate. The option to provide the NOTA button is to ensure the privacy of the voter and secrecy of the polling process,” N. Gopalaswami, former Chief Election Commissioner, told The Hindu .
However, it makes no difference to the result even if the total number of NOTA votes is higher than the candidate with the highest number of votes.