The foundation of democracy lies in the right of citizens to choose their representatives. In India, the electoral process is proof of this fundamental principle, offering a way for the people to express their choices. A special feature of this process is the ‘None of the Above‘ (NOTA) option, which has been a subject of much discussion and debate, particularly in the situation of the Chhattisgarh elections.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel’s opinion against NOTA has brought this feature to the attention of the public, causing controversy over its relevance and impact. This article will give more details about the history of NOTA, its significance, and the debates surrounding it in Chattisgarh.
Historical Background of NOTA
The NOTA feature was introduced on 27 September 2013, following a directive from the Supreme Court of India for its inclusion in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) as a tool for voters to exercise their right of expression. Represented by a symbol of a ballot paper with a black cross, NOTA provided a way for voters to show their disapproval of all the listed candidates.
The functionality of NOTA is straightforward yet impactful. By hitting the button next to the NOTA symbol on the EVM, voters can quietly express their disapproval, ensuring the privacy and authenticity of their choice. NOTA provides a way for voters to express their dissatisfaction with the candidates, possibly motivating political parties to nominate better candidates in the future.
Disruption of NOTA’s Existence in Chattisgarh Elections
The existence of NOTA was disturbed by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who argued for the removal of this option from EVMs. His argument was based on the observation that sometimes, the NOTA votes exceed the victory margin, potentially impacting the election results.
This view didn’t come out of nowhere; he said it based on the results of the previous elections. For example, the 2018 Chhattisgarh assembly elections saw a notable voter turnout, with 76.88% of the total electors casting their vote. This historical context might have influenced Baghel’s view on NOTA.
Baghel’s Argument for NOTA Removal
He said that the Election Commission should remove the NOTA button because sometimes it has more votes than the difference in votes between the winning and losing candidates. He also said the possibility of some voters mistakenly selecting the NOTA option, mistaking it for either the first or last choice.
While some agree with Baghel, others might believe is an important democratic tool that should be preserved in the political process. The discussion regarding NOTA, started by Baghel’s statements, shows the ongoing attempt to find a compromise between voter happiness and electoral practicality.