In 2018, Maharashtra`s State Election Commission (SEC) investigated local elections over the past two years and found several cases where NOTA won more votes than winning candidates. To give some examples:[45] In the Bori gram panchayat polls in Pune district, NOTA received 85.57% of the vote; At the Mankarwadi gram panchayat polling stations in the same district, 204 of the 330 valid votes went to NOTA. The Khugaon Khurd sarpanch in Nanded district received only 120 votes, while NOTA received 627 of the total 849 votes. Similarly, in a municipal election in the village of Khavadi in Lanja Tehsil, the winning candidate received 130 votes out of 441 valid votes, while NOTA received 210 votes. The NOTE option was introduced in the EVMs in 2013. The last local elections in the state were held in 2011. While traditional paper ballots were used for rural posts, EVMs were used for urban posts. Voters in rural organizations must vote four times to elect the Panchayat President, the Panchayat Community Member, the Panchayat Trade Union Council Member and the Panchayat Community District Member. Tamil Nadu was the second state after Maharashtra to use EVMs to elect members of municipal bodies. It should be noted that in states like Maharashtra, power has been given to NOTA in a true spirit, according to which if NOTA wins an election, a re-election will take place immediately afterwards. Haryana went further by stating that anyone who receives votes under NOTA is not eligible to stand for re-election.

Recently, the Odisha SEC used its powers under Article 243 ZA of the Constitution and included NOTA in the EVMs. Elections cannot be called free and fair if NOTA is not involved, as it deprives citizens of their right to freedom of expression,” the complaint added. NOTA was not included in the 2015 Kerala Panchayat elections. [42] In light of the above, the Maharashtra SEC has decided to consider amending the existing NOTE laws. In November 2018, the SEC announced that if NOTA received the maximum number of votes in an election, new elections would be held. The ordinance would apply immediately to polls and by-elections in all local authorities, local councils and nagar panchayats. If NOTA also receives the highest number of votes in its re-election, the candidate with the most votes, excluding NOTA, is declared the winner. [46] However, unelected candidates are not excluded from re-election. “So far, we have received EVMs from ICE.

But now we are asked to buy them ourselves, because we have single and multiple choice buttons for rural and urban local elections. Only then can we have NOTA as an option. As far as this election is concerned, there would be no NOTE in the EVMs,” the official said. The AIC has made it clear that even if the number of voters choosing NOTE is greater than the number of votes cast by one of the candidates, the candidate who receives the highest number of votes must be declared elected. However, there are often calls to amend the law to declare the election null and void if the number of NOTE votes exceeds the number of votes received by candidates. Currently, NOTE is only symbolic. In practice, NOTA cannot make or spoil a candidate or an election. Even if the number of NOTE votes is a majority, this does not lead to re-election or a vacancy in the riding.

Currently, the law does not allow NOTA to replace votes cast in favour of candidates. While Palanikumar could not be reached for comment, SEC officials told the federal government that since the option has not yet been used in EVMs during local elections and the Supreme Court decision also asked them to make the necessary changes on an ad hoc basis, It will take time to incorporate this change. In Tamil Nadu, NOTA was introduced into the Yercaud Assembly constituency in the 2013 by-election. In the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the proportion of those who supported NOTA fluctuated between 1.4% and 1.8%. About 5.5 lakh people voted for NOTA. In 2016 polls, NOTA drew 1.3 percent of voters — about 5.6 lakh people — to its side. However, this decreased to around 0.75% five years later, with around 3.46 lakh people using the option. In the 2019 Indian general election, about 1.04% of voters voted for None Of The Above (NOTA), with Bihar and Assam leading with 2.08% of NOTA voters. [18] NOTA was first used in the 2013 general elections in five states – Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh – and later in the 2014 general elections. It was introduced into the electoral process under the 2013 Supreme Court directive in PUCL v. Union of India.

The Supreme Court held that the NOTE option would allow voters to express their dissatisfaction with the political parties and candidates they field, thereby helping to clean up the political system. In 2016 and 2017, LIPs were filed to “amplify” the impact of NOTE[39][40] by giving it the power to reject – requiring new elections if NOTA wins a majority and excluding rejected candidates from participation. However, the Supreme Court responded to these PIAs by stating that such a solution was “impractical” and that “holding an election in our country is a very serious and costly matter.” [39] The Haryana SEC also followed suit, stating in November 2018 that NOTA would be treated as a fictitious candidate and that re-elections would be held if NOTA won a majority of votes in the upcoming December 2018 municipal elections. [47] NOTE is a way of expressing dissatisfaction and rejection. Of course, a voter who does not like all the candidates who ran for office in his constituency gets a kind of satisfaction by opting for NOTA. It is believed that negative elections would gradually lead political parties to field “clean” candidates for fear of losing votes and leading to a systematic change in the polls. Although the SEC has the power to hold local elections, it is questionable whether it has the right to omit the NOTA option in EVMs during municipal elections, said S Nandakumar, secretary-general of Thannatchi, an organization that raises awareness of Panchayat Raj. When the Supreme Court announced its decision on NOTE in 2004, it made it clear that the right to vote also includes the right not to vote, that is, the right to refuse.

The right of rejection means that by voting, a voter has every right not to choose one of the candidates in an election. Such a right implies the decision to remain neutral. This can happen when a voter believes that none of the candidates in a candidacy deserve to be elected. This happens through the way of one`s choice, faith, thought and expression. The right to object has its origin in freedom of expression and opinion,” the complaint reads. The situation regarding NOTA, including the silence of laws and rules of local bodies, is not unique to Tamil Nadu. Recalling this aspect, the Maharashtra SEC said in its order of 6. November 2018 [as available on its website] that silence does not refrain from using its powers in plenary to fill this void.” The panel said NOTA would be considered a mock electoral candidate, noting that if in an election, all candidates individually received fewer votes than NOTA, no one would be declared the winner and there would be a new election.