Describe the election procedure in India.
An election is a contest between different candidates from various parties out of which the voters elect one as their representative. There may also be independent candidates taking part in the election. There are following stages in the electoral process (procedure):
(a) Delimitation of constituencies:
First of all the entire area-the whole country in the case of Lok Sabha elections and of that particular State in the case of Legislative Assembly elections-is divided into as many constituencies as there are seats.
(b) Preparation of voters' list:
After the demarcation of constituency, the voters' list of each constituency is prepared and published.
(c) Filing of nomination papers:
The dates of election, filing of nomination papers and withdrawals are fixed by the Election Commission. Any person, who wants to fight the election, can file his nomination papers by the due date. His name must be there in the voters' list and he should be eligible to fight election. His name should be proposed and seconded by the voters of that Constituency. Every candidate has to deposit some security along with his nomination papers.
(d) Scrutiny of nomination papers and withdrawals:
A date is fixed for the scrutiny of all the nomination papers. If the nomination papers of any candidate are found to be not in order, they are rejected. The candidates can also withdraw their names from elections upto a certain date fixed by the Election Commission.
(e) Election campaign:
The next stage in the election is the election campaign by various candidates and political parties. Posters are distributed, meetings are held and speeches are delivered. Processions are also taken out and sometimes use of Radio and Television is also made. Through all these means voters are requested for votes.
The election campaign normally ends 48 hours before the election. Although every political party and candidate are free to do their election campaign yet according to our election laws no party or candidate can
(i) bribe or threaten the voters.
(ii) appeal to the voters in the name of caste or religion.
(iii) use government resources for election campaign.
(iv) spend more than 25 lakhs for a Lok Sabha Election and Rs. 10 lakh for an Assembly Election.
In case they indulge in any of the above practices their election can be annulled by the court even after they have been duly elected.
(f) Model code of conduct:
In addition to the laws, all the political parties in the country have agreed to a model code of conduct for the election campaign. This includes:
(i) Any place of worship shall not be used for election propaganda.
(ii) Criticism of the opposing candidates shall be limited to their policies and programmes past record of public service and not mention of their private personal lives.
(iii) The government official transport like car, vehicles, machinery and aircraft and personnel shall not be used by government officials or ministers.
(iv) No posters, pamphlets or notice, slogans shall be placed on any building without the permission of the owner.
(v) Any minister shall not lay down foundation stones of any project, make appointments and transfer of officials or make any promises for providing public facilities after the elections have been announced.
On the date fixed earlier, voting takes place. For voting, election booths are set up. Voters go to the polling booths and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice. Voting is held by secret ballot. These days Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) is used to record votes. EVM has the names of the candidates and their election symbols. The voters have to press the button against the name and symbol of the candidate they wish to vote for.
(h) Counting of votes and declaration of result:
After the voting is over, the ballot- boxes are sealed and taken to the counting centers. There the ballot boxes are opened before the candidates or their agents and votes are counted under the supervision of the returning officer. A candidate who gets the highest number of votes is declared elected.
(i) Election petition:
If any candidate feels that the election in his Constituency has not been held properly, or if he has any objection against the result, he can file an election petition in the Court. If the objections raised are found to be correct the court can set aside that election. In that Constituency, the election will be held again
- The country is divided into Constituencies. Some Constituencies are reserved for SCs, STs and OBCs.
- Once the Constituencies are decided, the next step is to decide who can and who cannot vote. In India, the list of people eligible to vote is prepared long before the elections and is called the Voter's List.
- Candidates of the political parties are nominated by the respective parties.
- The candidates campaign and release their manifestoes so that the people get to know them.
- Parties and Candidates need to follow a Code of Conduct during elections.
- Polling is done on a day selected by the Election Commission.
- After polling is done, the votes are counted and the party getting the majority forms the Government.
Electoral Process in India takes at least a month for state assembly elections with the duration increasing further for the General Elections. Publishing of electoral rolls is a key process that happens before the elections and is vital for the conduct of elections in India. The Indian Constitution sets the eligibility of an individual for voting. Any person who is a citizen of India and above 18 years of age is eligible to enroll as a voter in the electoral rolls. It is the responsibility of the eligible voters to enroll their names. Normally, voter registrations are allowed latest one week prior to the last date for nomination of candidates.
At first before the elections the dates of nomination, polling and counting takes place. The model code of conduct comes in force from the day the dates are announced. No party is allowed to use the government resources for campaigning. The code of conduct stipulates that campaigning be stopped 48 hours prior to polling day.
Government schools and colleges are chosen as polling stations. The Collector of each district is in charge of polling. Government employees are employed to many of the polling stations. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being increasingly used instead of ballot boxes to prevent election fraud via booth capturing, which is heavily prevalent in certain parts of India. An indelible ink is applied usually on the left index finger of the voter as an indicator that the voter has cast his vote. This practice has been followed since the 1962 general elections to prevent bogus voting.
"None of the above" voting option
"None of the above" is a proposed voting option in India that would allow voters who support none of the candidates available to them to register an official vote of "none of the above", which is not currently allowed under India election regulation. The Election Commission of India told the Supreme Court in 2009 that it wished to offer the voter a None of the above button on voting machines; the government, however, has generally opposed this option.
After the election day, the EVMs are stored in a strong room under heavy security. After the different phases of the elections are complete, a day is set to count the votes. The votes are tallied typically, the verdict is known within hours. The candidate who has mustered the most votes is declared the winner of the constituency.
The party or coalition that has won the most seats is invited by the President to form the new government. The coalition or party must prove its majority in the floor of the house (Lok Sabha) in a vote of confidence by obtaining a simple majority (minimum 50%) of the votes in the house.