India is the world's largest democracy where voting is crucial in shaping the country's destiny.
In India, the Election Commission offers an option to voters to reject all candidates contesting the elections if they aren't happy or satisfied with any of them.
The NOTA (None of the Above) option on the EVMs enables voters to reject all the candidates contesting.
Here's more on NOTA.
What exactly is the NOTA option?
The NOTA option allows the voters to not vote for any candidates that are contesting the elections.
However, the NOTA option is only a way to give negative feedback and it doesn't guarantee the winning candidate's dismissal in any manner.
It is only an option for voters to specify that they don't have confidence in any of the contesting parties or their candidates.
In 2013, SC upheld voters' right to reject all candidates
In September 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the voters' right to NOTA (none of the above) vote in elections should apply.
In a major electoral reform, the top court directed the EC to provide an option of NOTA on the EVMs and ballot papers.
The EC also introduced a NOTA symbol. The NOTA button is provided on all EVMs in the last panel.
Does NOTA impact the results of elections?
The NOTA option wouldn't impact the election results. According to a 2014 report, a senior EC official said the NOTA option doesn't have electoral value.
Any contesting candidate who gets the most number of votes would be named the winner even if a majority of voters cast vote for NOTA.
However, according to SC, NOTA encourages people to express their opinion and reject candidates.
Earlier, voters had to inform presiding-officer to cast negative ballot
Before NOTA option was introduced, voters who wanted to cast negative ballot had to inform the presiding officers at the polling booths. However, this was deemed unconstitutional by the apex court as the voter's identity isn't protected. Meanwhile, NOTA doesn't require the presiding officer's involvement.