EC has decided to introduce the NOTA option in forthcoming Assembly elections in the five states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Mizoram after Supreme Court in a September 27 judgement directed that the said option be included for voters on EVMs and ballot papers.
    
Voters may for the first time exercise the choice of not opting for any candidate in the fray for a particular seat without their right to maintaining secrecy over their decision being violated.
    
"Following the panel containing the name and symbol of the last candidate, there shall be a panel below with the words "None of the Above" written therein for the benefit of those electors who may wish to exercise the option of not voting for any of the candidates in the fray.
    
"These words shall be written in the same language or languages as used in the case of names of candidates. The size of the panel for "None of the Above" shall be the same as for the candidates," the EC order said.
    
EC has directed that changes be made in EVMs and ballot papers to enable voters to exercise the said option if they chose to.
    
Instructions were also issued for changes in the handbook for Returning Officers and in the various forms used for counting along with the final result sheet and the manual for Presiding Officers where the "None of the Above" votes should be tallied and mentioned.
    
"It is clarified that NOTA has the same effect as not voting for any candidate under the earlier provisions of Rule 49-O. Therefore, even if, in any extreme case, the number of votes against NOTA is more than the number of votes secured by the candidates, the candidate who secures the largest number of votes among the contesting candidates shall be declared to be elected as per the provisions of Rule 64," EC said.

(Agencies)

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