Election Process

The Election Commission decides the schedule of election to Parliament or State Legislature, considering the recommendations of the government in place. The Election Commission generally announces the schedule, but the election process starts only with the notification of the President for general or the Governor for state elections, calling upon the voters to elect their representatives for different constituencies. A period of 8 days is allowed for filing of nominations of candidates. While the candidate must be a voter in the country, the proposers must be voters in the constituency in which the candidate is contesting the election. An individual may contest from any number of constituencies.

After the period of nomination is over, the nomination papers are scrutinized by the Returning Officer; any serious defect in the same can lead to their rejection. After scrutiny, two clear days are allowed for withdrawal of candidature, should the candidate so desire. The list of candidates is then finalized by the Returning Officers and symbols allotted to the parties and independent candidates. Reserved symbols are granted to the recognized parties and free-symbols to the others.

Not less than 20 days’ period from the last date for withdrawal of nominations is allowed for campaigning. Limits have been prescribed for the election expenses of candidates at different rates for each state depending upon the number of voters in the constituencies. However, this amount does not include the election expense of political parties done on behalf of the candidate. Corporates and companies are not allowed to make donations to political parties.

The campaigning must end in a constituency 48 hours before the poll. The Election Commission evolves a model code of conduct which comes in force from the day the dates are announced. Apart from various other conditions, it makes it mandatory for parties not to make use of the government resources to campaign; the parties are not supposed to bribe the candidates or the voters before elections, and that the government cannot initiate or even announce a project once the elections are announced. The political parties and leaders are expected to follow it, however, the same is blatantly violated many a times.

The Constitution sets the eligibility of an individual for voting as any person who is a citizen of India and above 18 years of age. It becomes the responsibility of the eligible voters to enroll their names in the voters’ list. Electronic Voting Machines have been introduced instead of ballot boxes which prevent election cheating through the practice of forcefully capturing the poll booths, which once used to be highly prevalent in certain politically sensitive areas of India. To mark that the voter has cast his/her vote, an indelible ink is applied on the left-hand index finger.

In the event of unsuccessful polling due to adverse weather or violence etc. re-polling is conducted. The votes are counted after the poll to announce the winner. India follows first-past-the-post methodology to declare the winner. The system of first-past-the-post (abbreviated FPTP, 1stP, 1PTP or FPP) is one in which voters indicate their choice of candidate on the ballot (or EVM), and the candidate who receives more votes than any other candidate wins.