Election Universe

India grants voters the right to reject candidates

October 15 2013, 21:13


The Supreme Court of India has directed the Election Commission to introduce the option of None of the Above (NOTA) in paper ballots and voting machines to be used in future elections. This measure alters the dynamics of electoral choices voters from the most populous democracy has had since the beginning of democracy.  Also, it will potentially induce parties to be more careful when selecting their candidates and their proposals to the electorate.

In the ruling, Chief justice P Sathasivam, justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and justice Ranjan Gogoi stated “negative voting would gradually lead to systemic changes as political parties will have to respect the will of the people in selecting their candidates.”

From now on, Indian voters will have the right and the means to reject all contesting candidates. Other countries have adopted this before. France, Ukraine, Chile, Brazil, Belgium, Spain, and the United States are some of the countries in which this option is available to voters.

Ritesh Mehta, president of the Association for Aiding Justice, and an activist petitioning for this ruling said “The SC judgment will now give voters the right to reject a candidate without disclosing their identity. It will prevent bogus voting and also give an idea on the number of people agreeing with persons contesting the elections,”

The measure, which adds another fundamental right to Indian voters -the right to reject candidates-, has found some detractors. Some fear that it is illogical to expect someone to go through the hassle of voting lines, to say none of the above.

The order would first be implemented in the upcoming Assembly elections. Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram are scheduled to go to the polls later in the year.