NOTA and the ECP

June 12, 2018

By Asif Mehmood

Suppose there are three persons from three different political parties contesting the upcoming elections in your constituency.

Suppose you don’t like any of them.  Suppose all have equal reputation or you can say notoriety. Suppose you raise your voice in your respective circles but the party refuses to listen to your concerns and you find yourself standing hapless and helpless.

Now relax and consider: What options you are left with?

Is it some sort of compulsion to vote for anyone?

What if you don’t like to vote for anyone?

Do you have any option or you are bound to sit in your homes on the polling day?

The Election Commission of Pakistan considered this issue with all options available back in 2012.  It proposed that along with other option on the ballet paper there should be NOTA option available with the voters. NOTA means None of the Above. The Election Commission suggested that if 51 % voters opt for NOTA the election shall be declared as null and void. Election Commission forwarded this suggestion to the PM office with the request to forward it to the President of Pakistan to make it law through Presidential Ordinance.

The then government was so afraid of the idea that it put it under the carpet with such care that we could not even witness a debate on the subject. To our utter surprise even the Election Commission opted to keep silent.

In India the Election Commission first declared that a person can contest elections from two constituencies only.  And now Indian Election Commission has approached the Supreme Court of India with the request that one person must not be allowed to contest from more than one constituency.

The question is: If Indian Election Commission can do it why can Election Commission of Pakistan do the same?