The None of the Above (NOTA) option, like previous polls, found takers in the assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry.
In West Bengal, where Trinamool Congress has returned to power for a second consecutive term, NOTA accounted for 1.5 per cent of the vote share. According to data collated by the Election Commission till Thursday evening, 8,31,836 voters in West Bengal pressed the NOTA button placed as the last option on the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
In Tamil Nadu, where J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK retained power, bucking a nearly three-decade-old anti-incumbency trend, 5,57,888 voters (1.3 per cent) exercised the NOTA option.
A total of 2,873 voters in the high profile Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency, where chief minister J Jayalalithaa was a contestant, preferred NOTA. In Thiruvavur, from where DMK president M Karunanidhi got elected, 2,177 voters preferred NOTA.
According to the poll body, 1,88,978 voters in Assam, where BJP and allies won against the Congress, used the option. Percentage-wise, it comes to 1.1 per cent of the total voters who exercised their franchise in the state.
In Kerala, where UDF lost out to LDF, the NOTA users stood at 1,07,106 or 0.5 per cent of the total votes polled.
Percentage-wise, voters in Puducherry, where Congress-DMK alliance wrested power from AINRC, used the NOTA option the most as compared to the rest of the four states. 1.7 per cent of the total voters (13,240) exercised the option. The vote share for NOTA was only slightly less than that of the BJP, which commanded 2.4 per cent vote share with 19,303 votes.
After the Supreme Court order in September 2013, the Election Commission added the NOTA button on the EVMs as the last option on the voting panel. NOTA was exercised by nearly 60 lakh people in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Prior to the apex court order, those not inclined to vote for any candidate had the option of filling what is popularly called form 49-O. But filling the form at the polling station under Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, compromised the secrecy of the voter.
The Supreme Court recently refused to direct the Election Commission to hold fresh polls if the majority of the electorate exercised the NOTA option in a constituency.
Last September, NOTA got its own symbol -- a ballot paper with a black cross across it.