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Vote Responsibly: Say No To NOTA

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The election season is here. While many of you may be selecting your candidate, some of you may be keen on choosing the None of The Above (NOTA) option while casting your vote. But before you exercise your franchise as NOTA, know some essential details about it and then vote wisely.

The provision of NOTA was brought into practice after Supreme Court ordered to include NOTA button on every Electronic Voting Machine in September 2013. Since then, there has been an increase in the number of people choosing it. Probably, these are the citizens who earlier abstained from voting as they didn’t find a suitable candidate to vote for.

The option of not choosing a candidate gives citizens an opportunity to express their discontent and disapproval over the candidates. Voters feel they have acted responsibly by exercising their franchise. This also helps in curbing the bogus votes.

According to a bench headed by then Chief Justice of India, P Sathasivam said negative voting could bring about “a systemic change in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates”. If the number of NOTA votes are considerable, it will pressurise political parties to choose better candidates in the future elections, further improving their selection process.

However, NOTA will not be able to bring about a change in our administrative and political system immediately. The reason being- votes for NOTA are considered as invalid votes. Even if majority voters opt for NOTA, the remaining number of votes cast will be considered when deciding the result.

Thus NOTA votes will go uncounted and unconsidered. Also, unlike the popular belief, a substantial percentage of NOTA votes will not lead to re-election.

Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi clarified saying, “Even if there are 99 NOTA votes out of a total of 100 and candidate X gets just one vote, X is the winner, having obtained the only valid vote. The rest will be treated as invalid or no votes.”

There is no doubt that Indian citizens are upset with the system over various issues like lack of basic amenities, corruption, low levels of education and health facilities among others. Owing to this long list of complaints, citizens are choosing the NOTA option. But this should not be treated as an easy way out to escape one’s responsibility of voting.

Thus, in the current electoral conditions, it is important for voters to cast their vote for a candidate who is better than the rest. Consider factors like education, profession, history of social work and crime among others before you step out to get your finger inked with the mark of responsibility.