Raipur: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Bagel on Saturday said that the NOTA option, for citizens who are not inclined to vote for any candidate, on the electronic voting machines should be scrapped.
Following a Supreme Court order, the Election Commission in 2013 added the none of the above’, or NOTA, button to the EVM as the last option on the voting panel. NOTA has its own symbol a ballot paper with a black cross on it.
Talking to reporters at Raipur airport, Baghel said it has been seen that sometimes NOTA polled more votes than the margin of victory and loss.
When asked NOTA got more than 2 lakh votes in the 2018 assembly elections in the state and how the option impacts elections, Baghel said, “The Election Commission should take its cognisance. Many times it has been seen that NOTA polled more votes than the margin of victory and loss (between two candidates).”
He said many voters press the NOTA button thinking that they either have to hit the one at the top or at the bottom. “So NOTA should be stopped,” he said.
Polling to the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly will be held in two phases on November 7 and 17.
In the 2018 assembly elections, Chhattisgarh had recorded 76.88 per cent voter turnout with 1,42,90,497 of the total 1,85,88,520 electors exercising their franchise. NOTA had polled 2,82,738 votes.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, over 1.96 lakh NOTA votes were polled in the state, which has 11 parliamentary seats. NOTA stood at the third position in five parliamentary constituencies Bastar, Surguja, Kanker, Mahasamund and Rajnandgaon in 2019.
Prior to the apex court’s order, those not inclined to vote for any candidate had the option of registering their decision under Rule 49-O (elector deciding not to vote) of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961. But this compromised the secrecy of the voter.
The NOTA button on an EVM ensures the secrecy of the ballot.