Sometimes, voters find no right or clean candidate to vote for. In that case, while exercising their right to vote, they have to cast their votes either for NOTA (None of the Above) or the least undeserving/least unacceptable candidate (the all too familiar “lesser evil”). Knowing the fact that NOTA does not hold any electoral value, (i.e., even if the maximum votes are for NOTA, the candidate with maximum vote share will still be the winner), many voters end up casting their vote in favour of the least undeserving candidate, lest their vote should go to waste. (Here, “least undeserving candidate” means the lesser of the evils i.e. best among the worst – good person in a group of bad persons).
Similarly, if the voter believes that the most preferred candidate cannot win, the voter may be tempted to vote for the most favoured viable candidate, as a necessary evil or the lesser of the evils. However, in both the conditions, their vote is blended in with millions of others. There is no way to register their dissatisfaction with the choices the political parties have given them. There is no way to separate those who voted for the lesser of the evils, from those who voted because they actually liked the candidate.
If voters, who are regularly unhappy with the viable candidates, vote for the lesser evil, election after election, their votes will be taken for granted by the political parties.
There is a need to allow voters full expressivity, and the Election Commission of India is bound to provide an appropriate mechanism in the electronic voting machine (EVM) for the effective exercise of such a right. In the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s ruling, while directing the Election Commission of India to introduce a “None of the Above” button in EVMs, also said, “Democracy is all about choice. This choice can be better expressed by giving the voters an opportunity to verbalize themselves, unreservedly, and by imposing least restrictions on their ability to make such a choice.”
The Election Commission of India should provide an extra red button in the balloting unit of EVM, along with the blue button, against the names of all the contesting candidates. The voter can record his/her vote for the candidate as the “least undeserving candidate”, by pressing the red button, next to the candidate’s name.
Alternatively, the Election Commission of India could provide a separate panel, printed with “Least Undeserving Candidate”, on the ballot paper below NOTA. This ballot paper shall be affixed on the ballot unit of the EVM. The voter could then record his vote for the candidate, as the “least undeserving candidate”, by pressing the button next to that option; within seven seconds of pressing the button next to the candidate, he considers as the least undeserving.
“Least Undeserving Candidate” votes should be counted and indicated in the final result chart. The value of the vote given to “Least Undeserving Candidate” should be the same, like that of the value of the general vote. Total votes received by the candidate will be the sum of general votes and “Least Undeserving Candidate” votes. I believe the “Least Undeserving Candidate” option will ensure maximum participation of the public in the election. People not satisfied with the candidates will have a reason to go to the election booth and register their dissatisfaction. And looking at the figures of “Least Undeserving Candidate”, political parties and candidates will be able to understand where they stand in the eyes of the public.