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

Data: The Decline of NOTA Vote Share Continues Even in 2023


It has been 10 years since the introduction of NOTA on the EVM for Assembly & Lok Sabha elections. The data of the last 10 years indicates that NOTA has lost favour among people as evident with its declining vote share. The trend continued even in 2023 Karnataka assembly elections. 

The assembly elections for Karnataka were concluded recently and the results were declared on 13 May 2023. The incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost the elections with Indian National Congress comfortably crossing the required majority of 113 seats by winning 135 seats. This is the second assembly elections in Karnataka since NOTA was introduced in the ballot paper in 2013

In our earlier stories on NOTA, we highlighted that there is a declining trend in the votes polled for NOTA. This is the 10th year since NOTA became part of the elections in India.  In our earlier story on NOTA, we analysed the trends in assembly elections across the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa & Manipur, whose elections were conducted during February-March 2022. Since then, 5 more states went to the polls apart from Karnataka.  Gujarat & Himachal Pradesh had their assembly elections in the latter part of 2022, while the three Northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya & Nagaland had their elections in February’2023. 

In this story, we look at the trends for NOTA across these 6 states – Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Karnataka.  The data for the analysis is taken from the Datasets available on Dataful, which are prepared from the information published by the Election Commission of India. 

NOTA Vote share in 2023 so far at 0.72%, least since introduction 

Continuing with the declining trend of NOTA vote share as highlighted in our earlier stories, the share of votes polled for NOTA across the 4 state elections in 2023 is 0.72%. In the case of Karnataka, it is still lower at 0.68%. 

In the earlier story, we highlighted that the average share of NOTA for the assembly elections across the five states at the beginning of 2022 was 0.7%. The annual average improved to 0.88% after the elections later that year i.e., in Gujarat & Himachal Pradesh. Despite this improvement, the average vote share for NOTA in 2022 is still less than the previous year. 

Assembly elections in 5 more states are expected to be held in the later part of 2023. This includes four large states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh & Telangana. The NOTA vote share for 2023 will be dependent on these elections. 

Share of NOTA vote share fell compared to the last elections except in Tripura

As highlighted above, assembly elections for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh were conducted latter part of 2022. In both these states, the share of NOTA votes was lesser in 2022 compared to that of previous elections in 2017. 

  • In the case of Himachal Pradesh, the NOTA vote share was 0.59% in the 2022 assembly elections compared to 0.9% in the 2017 edition. 
  • Even in the case of Gujarat, the share of NOTA votes fell to 1.57% and competed to 1.84% in the 2017 elections. However, the NOTA vote share in Gujarat is higher than the average of the five states which went to polls at the beginning of 2022. Hence, it has contributed to the increase of NOTA vote share in the 2022 elections to 0.88% compared to 0.7% prior to the elections in Gujarat. 
  • In 2023, the three Northeastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura went to the polls. While the share of votes polled for NOTA was reduced in the case of Meghalaya and Nagaland, it increased in the case of Tripura.  In all three states, the incumbent governments came back to power. 
  • In the case of Karnataka, 0.69% of the total votes polled were for NOTA during the 2023 general assembly elections. This is lower than the 0.89% polled for NOTA in 2018. 

Except in 2 seats in Gujarat, NOTA share did not cross 3% in any of the seats across six states

In the 2018 Karnataka Assembly elections, NOTA share was 4.77% in the Bangalore South constituency. During the same elections, 69 seats had a share of NOTA between 1-3%, while in 152 seats, NOTA polled less than 1%. In the recently concluded 2023 elections in Karnataka, the share of NOTA in Bangalore-South was 1.03%. It is among the 34 seats in the 2023 elections where the share of NOTA was between 1-3%. The number of seats with NOTA less than 1% increased to 190. None of the seats had a NOTA share of more than 3%. 

The same is the case with the three Northeastern states which went to the polls in 2023 with none of the constituencies polling more than 3% for NOTA. In the case of both Meghalaya and Nagaland, there is an increase in the number of seats that polled by less than 1% for NOTA. As was the case in the previous elections in 2018, the majority of the seats polled less than 1%. 

However, contrary to the trend in other states, the share of NOTA has increased in Tripura during 2023 compared to 2018. This is reflected in an increase in the number of seats that polled more than 1% in the 2023 elections. In 2018, there were 27 constituencies that polled between 1-3%. This increased to 50 out of 60 total constituencies in 2023. On the other hand, 66 of the 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh polled less than 1% during Assembly elections conducted in late 2022. 

Gujarat is the only state among these 6 states that have Assembly seats that polled more than 3% for NOTA.  Both these are ST reserved seats. The ST reserved seat of Khedbrahma polled 3.56% for NOTA while in the case of Fatepura, it is 3.11%. In the 2017 Assembly elections in Gujarat, the share of NOTA was 2.7% and 3.47% respectively in these two seats. During the 2017 Assembly elections in Gujarat, there were 10 seats that polled more than 3% for NOTA, with 7 of them being ST reserved seats. 

In 8 constituencies each in Karnataka, Meghalaya and Tripura, votes polled for NOTA were more than the victory margin, whereas this was the case in 5 constituencies in the Gujarat Assembly elections of 2022. 

Fall in the share of NOTA among SC & ST seats, but still higher than General seats 

The fall in the NOTA for Gujarat is visible even across the reserved seats. In the 2017 Assembly elections, NOTA vote share among ST seats was 2.4% which fell to 2.07% in 2022. The same is the case with SC-reserved seats, wherein the share of NOTA votes fell from 1.9% in 2017 to 1.6% in 2022. 

Similar is the case with Karnataka where the NOTA vote share in SC reserved seats fell from 0.89% in 2018 to 0.79% in 2023. In the case of ST reserved seats, it fell from 1.08% in 2018 to 0.8% in 2023. However, it must be noted that the despite the fall in NOTA vote share, the share of NOTA votes is still higher in reserved seats than in the General seats. 

The four large states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana & Rajasthan which go for elections later in 2023 have a sizeable number of SC & ST reserved seats. It needs to be seen if the same trend continues in these states also.  


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