Symbol used with NOTA option on ballot papers and electronic voting machines in India
Source: Election Commission of India/Wikimedia

It was a bright Sunday morning and my whole family decided to meet up for brunch. Amidst all the family gossip, somehow the topic of elections came up. My cousin when asked said that he does not find any of the candidates suitable and therefore will more likely press the None Of The Above (NOTA) button.

Then what, after a deadly silence of whole 20 seconds, my uncle spoke up saying NOTA is a waste of vote and it is as better as not voting at all but is it? This question irked me somehow, and after a lot of Googling, I would say I am capable enough to write an article on this topic. A wise man once said, The greatest fallacy of Democracy is that everyone’s opinion is worth the same." Then why can’t people see NOTA as an opinion of the people rather than a waste of vote?

The NOTA button clearly represents that section of the voters who are not satisfied by the candidates of their constituencies, then why can’t the rest of the society normalize disagreeing with the political parties? John F. Kennedy once said,

“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”

I would count it as ignorance if a person votes for a candidate not because he likes him the most but he dislikes him the least.

This concept of introducing NOTA is called negative voting where political parties can learn about the opinions of the citizens and are forced to project clean candidates if the percentage of NOTA votes is very high. Though there is no law at the national level that deals with the consequences of NOTA votes being in majority, but the nation saw some changes in 2018 when Maharashtra and Haryana Panchayat elections noticed NOTA getting as high as 85% of the votes in some of its constituencies. The State Election Commission then decided to conduct re-elections in these constituencies in order to satisfy the voters. Now imagine what will happen if the same order is passed nationwide? The country will see a change that will reshape its future and for the better.

To understand the working of NOTA more clearly, let’s take Sweden and Finland as examples. There, if a voter does not like the parties, then they vote for their favorite cartoons. Yes, you read it right, cartoons and it might sound surprising but Donald Duck is quite a popular political leader in Sweden. Actually, what happens is people form non-registered parties and vote for them if they are not satisfied by their political leaders and thus Donald Duck’s party has been quite popular over there. Then re-elections are done and existing candidates get changed, in order to agree to with public demand.

Now, the question arises how can we make NOTA effective in our own country? I would say, the power of people is stronger than the people in power. One alone can’t change the world but at least he can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples. For this, creating awareness amongst the voters is very important because if people don’t know about their right to reject the candidates, how can we expect them to execute it.

For all those who say that they will not vote as they don’t find anyone fit, I would say, not voting is not a protest it is a surrender, if you disagree with something you should be vocal enough to show your disagreement. At last, I would say Democracy gives every voter a chance to do something stupid, it depends on you whether you prefer to vote for Donald Duck or the human version of Donald Duck.

.    .    .