NEW DELHI: In the last five years,
(None of the Above) has secured nearly 1.3 crore votes in assembly and Lok Sabha elections combined, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms and the National Election Watch, reports Ambika Pandit. In the 2019 LS polls alone, just over 65.2lakh (1.06%) Nota votes were cast, with the highest (51,660) in the Gopalganj (SC) constituency of Bihar. The lowest was in Lakshadweep (100).
The report also analyses ‘red alert constituencies’ that are categorised as those which have three or more candidates with criminal cases against them. It says that in state assembly elections since 2018, 26.8 lakh Nota votes were cast in red alert constituencies. Red alert constituencies in Bihar secured the highest percentage of votes – 6.1 lakh (1.6%) votes in 217 such seats.
Nota was introduced in India through a SC judgment of 2013. The SC directed the Election Commission to provide a Nota button in EVMs so that the voters who come to the polling booth and decide not to vote for any of the candidates in fray, are able to exercise their right not to vote while maintaining their right to secrecy.
The provision of Nota button was first implemented in the state assembly elections of Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh in 2013. In the last five years, on an average, Nota has secured 64.5 lakh votes in assembly elections. In assembly elections, Nota secured the highest percentage (almost 1.5%) of votes in 2020 – with Bihar accounting for 7.06 lakh and NCT Delhi for 43,108. The lowest percentage (0.07%) of Nota votes were cast in 2022 – nearly 8.2 lakh in five states polls combined for Goa, Manipur, Punjab, UP and Uttarakhand.
Nota secured the highest number of votes in Maharashtra (7.42 lakh) in 2019 assembly elections, and the lowest (2,917) in the Mizoram polls of 2018. It also comes through in the study that Nota secured the highest percentage of vote share (1.98%) in Chhattisgarh assembly polls in 2018 and the lowest (0.46%) in both the Delhi assembly elections of 2020 and the Mizoram polls in 2018. The report recommends that in any constituency, if votes polled for Nota are higher than all the contesting candidates then no one should be declared as elected, fresh election should be conducted.