ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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NOTA and the Indian Voter

This article looks at the use of the “none of the above” option in elections in India from 2013 to 2016 using data from the Election Commission of India to reveal certain patterns of NOTA votes. These patterns signal that Indian voters seem to use NOTA not just to show their disapproval of the candidates in the fray but to express their disenchantment with the existing political system.

Introduced in 2013, “none of the above” (NOTA) option has gradually become a notable part of Indian elections. In the highly charged 2017 Gujarat assembly elections, NOTA gathered 5.5 lakh votes (1.8%), which is more than the votes for the two national parties (National Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party), and surpassed the winning margins in over a dozen constituencies. NOTA figured in the round of assembly elections in 2017 with a few peasant organisations in Punjab such as Bharatiya Kisan Union and Naujawan Bharat Sabha urging people to use NOTA in their campaign for raj badlo, samaj badlo (change the system, change the society). Similarly, in Goa, there was an interesting case where the chief electoral officer of the state used his Twitter handle to create awareness about NOTA to increase voter turnout.

Similar pro-NOTA campaigns were part of electioneering in the state elections held in almost all the elections since its introduction. Yet, NOTA polling figures are small. On an average, the maximum NOTA vote share has not crossed 2.02% of the total votes polled in any election cycle. The perceived cynicism of Indian voters against the political class thus seems exaggerated.

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Updated On : 14th Feb, 2018

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