Election Commission of India (ECI), Elections, Government of India, India, LS Elections, NOTA, Stories

Are Voters preferring NOTA? – Part 2


Since the introduction of NOTA in 2013, it has become a ritual of sorts to understand its impact after every election. Data of the last 5 years suggests that voters aren’t actually preferring NOTA. NOTA did not poll more than 2% of the total vote in any election held after the year 2015.  


As noted in an earlier story by Factly, the vote share for NOTA is going down continuously since its introduction in 2013. Even the introduction of the dedicated NOTA symbol in 2015 hasn’t made any difference if one goes by the data. In a total of 32 elections (31 Assembly & one Lok Sabha) held since the introduction of NOTA on the EVM, the vote-share of NOTA crossed 2% only twice.

NOTA vote share crossed 3% only once in more than 5 years
NOTA option was part of the election for every State Assembly at least once and the Lok Sabha election in 2014. In these 32 elections, the vote-share of NOTA did not cross 1% in 14 of the elections and was between 1% and 2% in 16 elections. In other words, the vote share was less than 2% in 94% of the elections. It was more than 3% in only one election, in Chhattisgarh (2013) and was between 2% & 3% only once in Bihar (2015). Delhi is the only place where NOTA was part of an election more than once. In the Delhi election of 2013, NOTA vote share was 0.6% while it went down to 0.4% in the elections held in 2015. It remains to be seen if the elections in other states also follow a similar pattern.Nota Vote Share_No. of Elections by NOTA share

Number of Constituencies with more than 5000 votes for NOTA going down
The number of constituencies where NOTA polled more than 5000 votes has consistently come down each year. While the number of eligible voters and polling percentage has an impact on this number, the size of the electorate per constituency in about 20 states is more or less similar. In both Bihar (2015) & Chhattisgarh (2013), NOTA polled more than 5000 votes in close to 1/3rd of the constituencies. In the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, NOTA polled more than 20000 votes in 54 constituencies.Nota Vote Share_NOTA - More than 5000 votes

In the elections held in 2015, NOTA polled more than 5000 votes in 23% of the constituencies, the highest for any year. This number went down to less than 2% in both 2016 & 2017. In the Karnataka elections held recently, NOTA polled more than 5000 votes only in one constituency.

Nota Vote Share_NOTA - percentage

NOTA rarely polled more than 5% of the vote
Even if one were to look at the percentage of votes polled for NOTA, data suggests that preference for NOTA is going down. Only in Bihar (2015) & Chhattisgarh (2013), votes polled for NOTA crossed 5% of the total polled vote in more than five (5) constituencies. In all the other elections, the number of such constituencies was less than five. In fact, in 25 of the 32 elections held so far, NOTA did not poll more than 5% of the vote in any of the constituencies. Further, in the elections held in 2016, 2017 & 2018, there was not a single constituency where NOTA polled more than 5% of the total polled vote.Nota Vote Share_2

NOTA Vs Margin of Victory
Since the introduction of NOTA, one measure that is used to measure the impact is to count the number of constituencies where NOTA vote exceeded the margin of victory. Even on this measure, the percentage of such constituencies has come down in 2017 & 2018 compared to 2016. There were 57 such constituencies (9%) in 2013 when NOTA was first introduced. In 2017, this happened in only 6.38% of the constituencies. It further went down to 4.46% in the year 2018. In the recent Karnataka elections, it happened only in seven constituencies.

Nota Vote Share_NOTA Vs Victory Margin

Read Part 1 here


About Author

Rakesh has been working on issues related to Right to Information (RTI) for a decade. He is a Data/Information enthusiast & passionate about Governance/Policy issues.


  1. Fantastic article. i am so impressed. I suppose you have a awesome knowledge specially even as dealings with such subjects. thanks on your e-book; wild fashion. Many thank you sharing your article.

  2. The main reason NOTA has appearantly failed is because of even if NOTA polls the largest, the second candidate “wins” the election. Cost of re-elections is cited as the primary reason, but it is the fear of losing, that lawmakers are scared about. They prefer anarchy over re-elections.

    • Even as under effective as it is now, it is better to express that we feel no candidate is good for this constituency.

      A small voice now that needs more reinforcements. For that we will have to patiently educate fellow citizens that it is cheaper to hold re-elections than allow wrong / goons / corrupt legislatures to loot the country.