None of the Above in Indian Elections

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"NOTA" or 'None of the Above' has been provided as an option to the voters of India in most elections. Through the usage of NOTA, a citizen can choose not to vote for any candidates who are contesting the elections. However, NOTA in India does not guarantee dismissal of the winning candidate. Therefore, it’s only a method to give a negative feedback. NOTA does not hold any electoral value even if the maximum votes are for NOTA, the candidate with maximum vote share will still be the winner. [1]

Supreme Court Judgment on NOTA[edit]

A writ petition was filed by People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). The Supreme Court of India judgment said, "We direct the Election Commission to provide necessary provision in the ballot papers/EVMs and another button called “None of the Above” (NOTA) may be provided in EVMs so that the voters, who come to the polling booth and decide not to vote for any of the candidates in the fray, are able to exercise their right not to vote while maintaining their right of secrecy."[1] The Supreme Court also observed that it is essential that people of high moral and ethical values are chosen as people's representatives for proper governance of the country, and NOTA button can compel political parties to nominate a sound candidate.

Election Commission of India (ECI) and NOTA[edit]

Symbol used with NOTA option on electronic voting machines in India

1. ECI has stated that "...even if, in any extreme case, the number of votes against NOTA is more than the number of votes secured by the candidates, the candidate who secures the largest number of votes among the contesting candidates shall be declared to be elected..."[2][3]

2. In a clarification released in 2013, ECI has stated that votes polled for NOTA cannot be considered for determining the forfeiture of security deposit.[4]

3. In 2014, ECI introduced NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections.[5]

4. In 2015, Election Commission of India announced the symbol for 'None of the Above' option, with the design being done by National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad.[6] Earlier, there were demands that Election Commission allot the symbol of a donkey for NOTA.[7]


In many elections, NOTA has won more votes than many political parties who contested[8][9]. In many constituencies, votes received by NOTA has been higher than the margin by which the candidate has won.[10][11] Observations has been made that NOTA can influence more citizens to participate in voting, though there is a danger that the novelty factor associated with NOTA will gradually erode.


NOTA has been described as the maturing of India's democracy.[12] Opinions has been made that the purpose and advantage of NOTA has been defeated as the winner will be the candidate who receives the second highest number of votes, even if NOTA receives the highest number of votes.[13] Hence, "NOTA is a positive step", while "it does not go far enough".[14] NOTA is considered a "waste of vote",[15] "merely cosmetic"[16], "a symbolic instrument to express resentment"[17] , voters expressing their "disenchantment with the existing political system"[18] and possibly "a mere decoration".[19] A number of groups and individuals have been conducting voter awareness campaigns about NOTA[20]. Recent year election results have shown an increasing trend of people choosing NOTA. In most elections, NOTA is the third winner[citation needed].


There has been discussions to improve on NOTA, and to empower the voter through NOTA. Some of those suggested improvements include:
1. If NOTA receives the highest number of votes, re-elections should be held in that constituency [21][22]
2. If the votes received by NOTA is higher than a certain percent, re-election to be held [23]
3. When conducting re-elections, the NOTA button may be disabled to avoid a series of re-elections [24]
4. Political parties that lose to NOTA to bear the cost of re-election [25]
5. The candidates who lose to NOTA should not be allowed to contest elections for a defined period of time (for example, 6 years) [26]
6. Candidates receiving votes less than NOTA to be disqualified to contest any election in future, even in constituencies where NOTA might not have got maximum votes [27]
7. To conduct re-election, if the votes polled for NOTA is higher than the winning margin of votes [28].

NOTA NOT-Applicable[edit]

NOTA was not included in the 2015 Kerala panchayat elections[29].

Section 79 (d) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, recognises "electoral right" to also include the right to "refrain from voting at an election"[30]. 'The Representation of People Act' is applicable to "...either House of Parliament or in the House or either House of the Legislature of a State..."[31]. Recognition of "electoral right" as also the right to "refrain from voting at an election" is not made in the acts pertaining to elections to panchayats in Kerala.

Including NOTA in panchayat elections to these states and making improvements to NOTA may require changes or amendments to these acts and rules.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  2. ^ "Election Commission of India : Provision for 'None of the Above' option on the EVM/Ballot Paper 0 Instructions" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  3. ^ "Election Commission of India : Supreme Court's judgement for 'None of the Above' (NOTA) option on EVM - clarification" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  4. ^ "Election Commission of India : Clarification on 'None of the Above' - counting of votes-reg" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Election Commission of India : Symbol for 'None of the Above' (NOTA) option" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "NOTA polls more than 5 parties". 2017-03-12. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
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  10. ^ "Thin margin losers become victim of NOTA during Assembly elections". Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
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  12. ^ "'None Of The Above' option: The maturing of democracy in India or setting in of disillusionment with it?". 
  13. ^ "NOTA – "right to reject", What does it mean? – Legal Desire". 2017-02-14. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "How NOTA is a wastage of votes in elections". 2017-03-11. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
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  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-02-27. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
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  19. ^ Avantika Mehta (2013-10-26). "The option of no choice is welcome but it doesn't quite empower the voter". Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
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