What is NOTA (None of the Above)?

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The Supreme Court recently issued a notice to the Election Commission on a plea calling for fresh elections in a constituency where the ’none of the above’ option on the EVM gets the maximum votes.

About NOTA (None of the Above)

  • It is a ballot option that a voter can choose to apply for instead of giving their vote to anyof the contesting candidates.
  • NOTA empowers the electors to express their negative opinions and a lack of support for the contenders.
  • It gives them the right to reject while maintaining the secrecy of their decision.
  • When was it first used?
    • NOTA was used for the first time in the 2013 Assembly elections in five states-Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh-and later in the 2014 General Elections.
    • It was introduced into the electoral process following the 2013 Supreme Court directive in the PUCL versus Union of India case.
  • How does a person cast a NOTA vote?
    • The NOTA option in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) is given at the bottom of the candidates' list.
    • Earlier, in order to cast a negative ballot, a voter had to inform the presiding officer at the polling booth.
    • Now the voter has just to press the NOTA option on the EVM.
  • Does NOTA Vote Count?
    • The Election Commission clarified that votes cast as NOTA are counted, but are considered ‘invalid votes’.
    • Even if NOTA votes get the most number of votes in a constituency, the next candidate with the second-most number of votes is declared the winner.
    • Therefore, votes made to NOTA will not change the outcome of the election.

Q1: What is Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)?

It is an independent system that consists of two parts, namely, a VVPAT Printer and VVPAT Status Display Unit (VSDU) attached to the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), that allow the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. When a vote is cast, a slip is printed containing the serial number, name, and symbol of the candidate and remains exposed through a transparent window for 7 seconds. Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls into the sealed drop box of the VVPAT. The results of EVMs can be verified using the slipskept in the drop boxes of VVPAT machines.

Source: Supreme Court’s notice to Election Commission on NOTA: Understanding voters’ right to reject