The none of the above (NOTA) option, introduced for the first time in Lok Sabha elections, was opted by 3,106 voters, thereby accounting for 0.68% of the total votes polled in the constituency.
Even while it had no bearing on the results, the total number of voters that pressed the NOTA button ensured that it was placed at number 5 on the result list, with a total of 13 candidates securing fewer votes than the option.
Round six, with 202 votes, recorded the highest number of punches on the NOTA. Three-digit figures in 18 of the 20 rounds, with the numbers only going down in rounds 19 and 20. One of the voters even rejected all the candidates through a postal ballot. The number of NOTA votes recorded was higher in the urban areas.
The right to reject all candidates was given following directions of the Supreme Court issued on September 27 last year. The option empowered Indian citizens with the right to decide that no contesting candidate was worth their votes. The bench, headed by then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, deciding on a public interest litigation filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, had directed the election commission to give None Of The Above (NOTA) option on electronic voting machines as well as ballot papers.
Jaspal Singh, a city-based IT professional, who voted for NOTA lauded the decision of the Supreme Court and stated that the voters had the right to reject all the candidates. “Earlier, we used to vote for even unwanted candidates,” said Jaspal Singh.
In the run up to the elections, the election department had conducted a series of EVMs and NOTA of awareness programmes for voters. The department had paid special attention to rural areas of Chandigarh parliamentary constituency, including Lal Bhadur Shastri Colony, Colony Number 4, Badheri and Adarsh Colony, among others, to create awareness of the option.
Total NOTAs 3,106