Sadda Haq: What Happens When You Press the NOTA Button?

According to the Supreme Court, the right to vote also includes the right to reject a candidate at the hastings.

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Are you tired of the same poll-time promises? Do all candidates in the fray appear hopeless and corrupt to you? Do you feel like rejecting them? If this is how you feel about each and every candidate contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from your constituency, then you can send them a strong message by pressing the ‘None of the Above’ button, popularly known as NOTA.

What is NOTA?

The 'None of the Above' option, simply put, gives the voter the right to express a negative opinion by not selecting any of the candidates in the fray. The Supreme Court envisaged NOTA as a way of cleansing the political system, saying, “Negative voting will lead to a systemic change in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates."

When was it first implemented?

While it may seem that NOTA has been around for a long time, it actually came into force only in 2013. It was used for the first time during the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Delhi.

This was preceded, in September 2013, by a Supreme Court directive in the ‘People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs Union of India’ case to provide for a NOTA button in the EVMs, thereby upholding a citizen’s right to vote negatively along with the right to secrecy.

Is NOTA really effective?

Those who are under the impression that their NOTA vote will have a bearing on the election results would unfortunately be in for disappointment. As an Election Commission official pointed, "The NOTA option on EVMs has no electoral value. Even if the maximum number of votes cast is for NOTA, the candidate getting the most of the remaining votes would be declared winner."

(With inputs from Hindustan Times)

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