Your Nota vote won't count

Experts want amendment to Representation of People's Act.

Chennai: From an obscure form 17A to a mandatory button on the EVMs, the None of the Above (Nota) option that allows a voter to reject all candidates has come a long way.

But, election experts feel the existing Nota option is toothless and want it to be strengthened by giving it an “electoral value”. Former Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy and former Chief Electoral Officer of Tamil Nadu Naresh Gupta say the purpose of negative voting is rendered useless since the vote to Nota is not counted.

They also stressed the need for bringing an amendment to Representation of the People’s Act, 1951 to ensure that a vote to Nota also counts. Voters, who wish to reject all candidates, had to ask for a separate Form 17A to put on record that they have no confidence in any of the candidates till the Supreme Court intervened and asked the Election Commission to ensure that every EVM has a button for Nota in 2013.

“But the purpose of negative voting is rendered useless, as there is no re-election in case number of votes earned by NOTA is the highest. In many countries, a re-election is held when more than 50% of votes are Nota but here, re-election would involve hassles, so it is not pondered on,” Mr Gupta said.
Some of the advantages of Nota are increase in polling percentage thus giving people the right to freedom of expression, he said and wanted an amendment to the law to ensure that Nota gets strengthened.

Mr Krishnamurthy said unless the legal frame is amended, Nota would continue to lack strategic value. “India follows First Past the Post system of voting which ensures that the candidate with the largest number of votes wins the elections. Introduction of Nota has ensured that people can vote against any of the contesting candidates but only after amending the law we will have value for it,” he said.

Noting that launching Nota was the first step, he said the Representation of the People Act, 1951, should be amended. Seeking to dispel the impression that Nota have electoral value, Mr Krishnamurthy said Nota doesn’t ensure negative voting.

“In many other countries where the number of Nota votes exceed the number of votes earned by the winning candidate or exceeds the difference between the winner and the loser, a second set of elections are held to determine the winner,” he said. Voters also feel that a vote to Nota should be considered as a negative vote against the candidates since every vote should count in an election.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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