Election in India & Electronic Voting Machine

  • Articles 324 to 329 in Part XV make provisions regards to electoral system
  • One general electoral roll for every territorial constituency for election to the Parliament and the state legislatures
  • No person is to be ineligible for inclusion in the electoral roll on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or any of them
  • Every citizen of India who is 18 years of age, is entitled to vote at the election
  • He is not disqualified under the provisions of the Constitution or any law made by Parliament or state legislature on the ground of non-residence, unsound mind, crime or corrupt or illegal practice
  • Parliament may make provision with respect to all matters relating to elections to the Parliament and the state legislatures
  • State legislatures can also make provision with respect to all matters relating to elections to the state legislatures which are not covered by the Parliament
  • As per the Constitution the orders issued by the Delimitation Commission cannot be challenged in any court.
  • The Constitution lays down that no election to the Parliament or the state legislature is to be questioned except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as provided by the appropriate legislature.
  • Since 1966, the election petitions are triable by high courts alone.
  • The appellate jurisdiction lies with the Supreme Court alone.
  • Article 323 B empowers the appropriate legislature (Parliament or state legislature) to establish a tribunal for the adjudication of election disputes.
  • It also provides for the exclusion of the jurisdiction of all courts (except the special leave appeal jurisdiction of the Supreme Court) in such disputes.
  • So far, no such tribunal has been established.
  • It must be noted here that in Chandra Kumar case (1997), the Supreme Court declared this provision as unconstitutional.
  • Consequently, if at any time an election tribunal is established, an appeal from its decision lies to the high court.
 
 

Election Machinery

Election Commission of India (ECI)

  • President of India appoints the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners.
 

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO)

  • The Chief Electoral Officer of a state/UT supervise election work in the state/UT
  • He works under the direction and control of the Election Commission
  • Election Commission of India nominates or designates an Officer of the Government of the state / UT  as the Chief Electoral Officer in consultation with that State Government / UT Administration.
 

District Election Officer (DEO)

  • District Election Officer supervises the election work of a district
  • Election Commission of India nominates or designates an officer of the state Government as the District Election Officer in consultation with the state government.
 

Returning Officer (RO)

  • The Returning Officer responsible for the conduct of elections in a constituency
  • Election Commission of India nominates or designates an officer of the Government or a local authority as the Returning Officer in consultation with the State Government / UT Administration
  • In addition, the Election Commission of India also appoints one or more Assistant Returning Officers for each of the constituencies
 

Electoral Registration Officer (ERO)

  • Electoral Registration Officer is responsible for the preparation of electoral rolls for a constituency
  • The Election Commission of India, in consultation with the state / UT  appoints an officer of the government or the local authorities as the Electoral Registration Officer
  • In addition, the Election Commission of India also appoints one or more Assistant Electoral Registration Officers
 

Presiding Officer

  • The Presiding Officer with the assistance of polling officers conducts the poll at a polling station
  • The District Election Officer appoints the Presiding Officers and the Polling Officers
  • In the case of UTs, such appointments are made by the Returning Officers
 
 

Observers

  • The Election Commission of India nominates officers of Government as Observers for Constituencies
  • These observers are of various kinds
 

General Observers

  • The Commission deploys General Observers to ensure smooth conduct of elections.
  • These Observers keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process to ensure free and fair elections.
 

Expenditure Observers

  • Expenditure Observers from Central Government Services are appointed to keep a close watch on election expenditure of the candidates
  • They ensure that no inducement is offered to the electors during the entire election process for exercise of their franchise.
 

Assistant Expenditure Observers

  • Assistant Expenditure Observers are appointed for each Assembly
  • They ensure that all major election campaign events are video-graphed and complaints of electoral malpractices are promptly attended.
 

Police Observers

  • The Commission deploys IPS officers as Police Observers at State and District levels
  • They monitors all activities relating to
    • Force deployment
    • Law and order situation
    • Co-ordinate between the Civil and Police administration
 

Awareness Observers

  • Started first time in the 16th Lok Sabha Elections 2014
  • The Commission deployed Central Awareness Observers at district level
  • They observe
    • Efficient and effective management of the electoral process at the field level
    • Voter awareness and facilitation
    • People’s participation in the electoral process and voters’ turnout
    • Media related aspects of RP Act 1951
    • Problem of ‘Paid News’
 

Micro Observers

  • In addition to General Observers, the Commission also deploys Micro Observers
  • They observe the poll proceedings on the poll day in selected critical polling stations
  • They are chosen from Central Government / Central PSUs officials.
  • They verify and observe
    • BMF at the Polling stations and certify the same before start of polling
    • Proceedings at the Polling Stations on the poll day
    • Process of sealing of EVMs and other documents
    • Ensure that all instructions of the Commission are complied with by the Polling Parties and the Polling Agents.
    • Report to the General Observers directly about vitiation of the poll proceedings
 
 

Election Process

Time of Elections

  • Elections for the Lok Sabha and every state Legislative Assembly have to take place every 5 years, unless called earlier.
  • The President can dissolve Lok Sabha and call a General Election before 5 years is up, if the Govt. can no longer command the confidence of the Lok Sabha, and if there is no alternative government available to take over.
 
 

Schedule of Elections

  • When the 5-year limit is up, or the legislature has been dissolved and new elections have been called
  • The Election Commission puts into effect the machinery for holding an election
  • The Constitution states that there can be no longer than 6 months between the last session of the dissolved Lok Sabha and the recalling of the new House
  • So elections have to be concluded before 6 months
  • Commission normally announces the schedule of elections in a major press conference
  • Normally its takes place a few weeks before the formal process start
  • Model Code of Conduct comes immediately into effect after such announcement
  • The formal process for the elections starts with the Notification
  • As soon as Notifications are issued, candidates can start filing their nominations in the constituencies from where they wish to contest.
  • Candidates are given a week to put forward their nominations.
  • These are scrutinized by the Returning Officer
  • Valid candidates can withdraw from the contest within 2 days from the date of scrutiny.
  • Contesting candidates get at least 2 weeks for political campaign before date of poll.
  • On account of the vast magnitude of operations and the massive size of the electorate, polling is held on a number of days for the national elections.
  • A separate date for counting is fixed
  • The results declared for each constituency by the concerned Returning Officer.
  • The Commission compiles the complete list of members elected and issues an appropriate Notification for the due constitution of the House.
  • With this, the process of elections is complete.
  • President, in case of the Lok Sabha, and Governors of the concerned states, in case of State Assemblies, can then convene their respective Houses to hold their sessions.
 
 

Oath or Affirmation

  • It is necessary for a candidate to subscribe an oath or affirmation before an officer authorised by the Election Commission
  • Normally the authorised persons are, the Returning Officer and the Assistant Returning Officer for the constituency.
  • In the case of a candidate confined in a prison or under preventive detention, the superintendent of the prison or commandant of the detention camp is authorised to administer the oath.
  • And in the case of a candidate confined to bed in a hospital, the medical superintendent in charge of the hospital or the medical practitioner attending on him is similarly authorised.
  • If a candidate is outside India, the Indian Ambassador or High Commissioner or diplomatic consular authorised by him can also administer oath/affirmation.
  • The candidate, in person, is required to make the oath or affirmation immediately after presenting his nomination papers and in any case not later than the day previous to the date of the scrutiny
 
 

Election Campaign

  • The campaign is the period when the political parties put forward their candidates and arguments with which they hope to persuade people to vote for their candidates and parties.
  • The official campaign lasts at least two weeks
  • It officially ends 48 hours before polling date
  • During the election campaign, the political parties and contesting candidates are expected to abide by a Model Code of Conduct
  • The model code lays down broad guidelines as to how the political parties and candidates should conduct themselves during the election campaign.
  • Once an election has been called, parties issue manifestos
  • It is a details of programmes they wish to implement if elected to govt.
  • The strengths of their leaders, and the failures of opposing parties and their leaders.
  • Rallies, slogans, pamphlets, posters different types of promotions are used to motivate voters
 
 

Voting Procedure

  • Voting is done by secret ballot.
  • Polling stations are usually set up in public institutions, such as schools and community halls.
  • Election Commission try to ensure that there is a polling station within 2 km of every voter
  • No polling stations should have to deal with more than 1500 voters
  • Each polling station is open for at least 8 hours on the day of the election
  • Since 1998, the Commission has increasingly used Electronic Voting Machines (EMVs)
  • In 2003, all state elections and by elections were held using EVMs.
  • Encouraged by this, the Commission took a historic decision to use only EVMs for the Lok Sabha election in 2004.
  • More than 1 million EVMs were used in this election.
 
 

Electronic Voting Machine

  • An Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is a simple electronic device used to record votes
  • Advantages of the EVM
    • It eliminates the possibility of invalid and doubtful votes
    • Possibilities of EVM tampering is very lesser than ballot.
    • Even though the initial investment was heavy of EVM, it has since been expected to save costs of election
    • It makes the process of counting of votes much faster
    • Reduces to a great extent the quantity of paper used, making the process eco-friendly.
    • EVMs are easier to securely transport compared to ballot boxes
    • Illiterate people find EVMs easier than ballot paper system
 
 

Media Coverage

  • In order to bring as much transparency, the media are encouraged and provided with facilities to cover the election
  • Media persons are given special passes to enter polling stations to cover the poll process and the counting halls during the actual counting of votes.
 
 

Election Petitions

  • Any elector or candidate can file an election petition if he or she thinks there has been malpractice during the election.
  • An election petition is not an ordinary civil suit, but treated as a contest in which the whole constituency is involved.
  • Election petitions are tried by the High Court of the state involved
  • If upheld can even lead to the restaging of the election in that constituency
 
 
 

Notes

  • The 61st Amendment Act of 1988 has reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 years. This came into force on March 28, 1989
 
 
1st election – 489 seats – Congress  364 – 1952
6th election – 542 seats – Janata 298 – 1977
8th election – 542 seats – Congress 415 – 1980
16th election  – 543 seats – BJP 282 – 2014
 

Women in Lok Sabha

1st – 1952 – Elected -22
16th – 2014 – Elected – 62
 
 

Constituencies

Largest Area wise

  1. Ladakh – J​ammu & Kashmir
  2. Barmer – Rajasthan
  3. Kutch​ – Gujarat
  4. Arunachal West – Arunachal Pradesh
  5. Arunachal East – Arunachal Pradesh

 

Smallest Area wise

  1. Chandni Chowk​ – NCT of Delhi
  2. Kolkata North West ​- West Bengal​
  3. Mumbai South​ – Maharashtra
  4. Mumbai South Central​ – Maharashtra​
  5. Delhi Sadar​ – NCT of Delhi
 
 

Largest No of Voters

  1. Telangana – Malkajgiri
  2. Uttar Pradesh – Ghaziabad
  3. Karnataka – Bangalore North
  4. Uttar Pradesh – Unnao
  5. NCT of Delhi – North West Delhi
 

Smallest No of voters

  1. Lakshadweep – Lakshadweep
  2. Daman & Diu – Daman & Diu
  3. Jammu & Kashmir – Ladakh
  4. Dadra & Nagar Haveli – Dadra & Nagar Haveli
  5. A & N Islands – A & N Islands
 
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