NOTA or None Of The Above is an option on the EVM at the very end of the candidate list. This is pressed when a person does not want to vote for any candidate in his constituency. It was envisaged to prevent the misuse of votes via proxy. If you sit at home, someone can vote in your name by forging a fake ID. This could be avoided if you go to the voting booth and vote NOTA.
What’s its purpose?
NOTA was introduced in the 2013 assembly election to show unacceptance for the fielded candidates. Through NOTA voters were allowed to exercise their voting rights even if they don’t like any candidate. It is a symbolic tool to show that the people are not happy with the candidates that the parties have put ahead.
Is it same as not voting at all?
NOTA’s immediate effect is the same as “not voting”. The NOTA votes do not have the power to affect the votes gotten by the candidates. The candidate that gets the highest number of votes still wins even if NOTA gets a higher vote count than the highest voted candidate.
What’s its long term significance?
NOTA indeed does not have so much significance as it is thought to be. It is however not entirely meaningless. A high percentage of NOTA votes forces political parties to shape their manifestos and candidates to align with that of unsatisfied people. If a large chunk of the population votes NOTA, there is a very good chance of the emergence of other candidates or the traditional ones changing their approach.
Should there be re-election if NOTA gets the most amount of votes?
An election is a very costly event. It takes crores to hold an assembly election. Elections being held twice in a poor country as ours could never be beneficial for the people. Although the ideal solution would be to hold the election again, practically it’s not a viable option for India.
NOTA is currently not a very powerful tool for the voters. It could be in the future but as it stands it’s just a symbolic tool to let candidates know that a certain percentage of the voter base doesn’t like any of the candidates and they much change to appease the NOTA voters.