A common argument made against having a NOTA option on the ballot paper is the ‘but NOTA doesn’t achieve anything’ argument.
I never understood the logic of that, so tended to dismiss such criticisms as baseless, founded on unexamined assumptions and therefore not worthy of comment.
Upon investigation, however, I discovered that there is a perfectly logical and valid reason why people believe this: their perception of NOTA is based on how they believe it has been implemented elsewhere and the impact it has had.
A perfectly rational way to assess an electoral reform’s effectiveness, you might think – until you realise that, in all cases, the form of NOTA in question bares no resemblance to the bonafide NOTA option with teeth that we are campaigning for.
This excellent article lists 12 countries where a form of NOTA exists, the most recent addition being India:
In all cases, NOTA is a token gesture with no ramifications whatsoever. If NOTA wins in any of these countries, literally nothing happens. The second placed live candidate takes office anyway.
What use is that? If there are no consequences when the majority reject all that is on offer, why bother making use of the option in the first place? Having such a token NOTA option does nothing for voter turnout as it offers no more incentive to the disenfranchised to vote than if it were not there at all. It therefore doesn’t even offer an effective way of measuring voter discontent – the bare minimum!
True NOTA, clearly, must have ramifications for the election result if it wins, otherwise it is meaningless. Our proposal is for just such a thing and is covered in detail here: https://nota-uk.org/2013/11/16/nota-for-real-logistics-ramifications/
So – the next time someone trots out the ‘NOTA won’t achieve anything argument’, politely remind them that true NOTA has never been tried anywhere and point them our way.