What is our system of elections?

  • Elections are held in India in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha (Assembly) regularly after every 5 years . After 5 years, the term of all the elected representatives comes to an end.

  • Elections held in all constituencies at the same time , either on the same day or within a few days called General Elections .

  • Sometimes elections are held only for one constituency to fill the vacancy caused by the death or resignation of a member. This is called a By-Election.

Electoral Constituencies

  • India is divided into different areas for the purpose of election s. These areas are called electoral constituencies . The voters living in an area elect one representative.

  • For the Lok Sabha elections, I ndia is divided into 543 constituencies . The representative elected from each constituency is called a Member of Parliament or an MP.

  • Each state is divided into a specific number of Assembly constituencies. In this case, the elected representative is called the Member of the Legislative Assembly or an MLA . Each Parliamentary constituency has within it several assembly constituencies.

  • The same principle applies to Panchayat and Municipal elections . Each village or town is divided into several wards that are like constituencies.

  •  Each ward elects one member of the village or the urban local body. Sometimes these constituencies are counted as seats ’, for each c onstituency represents one seat in the assembly.

Reserved Constituencies

  • Our constitution entitles e very citizen to elect her/his representative and to be elected as a representative.

  • The makers of our constitution thought of a special system of reserved constituencies for the weaker sections.

  • Some constituencies are reserved for people who belong to the S cheduled Castes and scheduled tribes.

  • Currently, in the Lok Sabha,  84 seats are reserved for the scheduled castes and 47 for the scheduled tribes.

  • This system of reservation was extended later to other weaker sections at the district and local levels.

  • In many states, seats in rural (panchayat) and urban (municipalities and corporations) local bodies are now reserved for other backward classes (OBC) as well.
  • One-third of the seat s are reserved in rural and urban local bodies for women candidates.

Voter’s List

  • In a democratic election, the list of those who are eligible to vote is prepared much before the election and given to everyone, which is officially called the Electoral Roll and is commonly known as the Voters’ List . It is the responsibility of the government to get the names of all the eligible voters put on the voters’ list.

  • The voters are required to carry Election Photo Identity Card [EPIC] when they go out to vote so that no one can vote for someone else. But the card is not yet compulsory for voting as voters can show many other proofs of identity, like the ration card or the driving license.

Nomination of candidates

  • Anyone who can be a voter can also become a candidate in elections. The candidate should be a minimum of 25 years age, while it is only 18 years for being a voter.

  • Party nomination is often called a party ‘ticket’ .

  • Every person who wishes to contest an election has to fill out a ‘nomination form’ and give some money as ‘a security deposit’.

  •  The candidate has to make a legal declaration , giving full details of:
    1. Serious criminal cases pending against the candidate
    2. Details of the assets and liabilities of the candidate and his or her family
    3. Educational qualifications of the candidate
    4. This information is made available to the public so that voters can make their decision on the basis of the information provided by the candidates.

Election campaign

  • The main purpose of an election is to give people a chance to choose the representatives, the government, and the policie s they prefer.

  • It is necessary to have a free and open discussion about who is a better representative, which party will make a better government, or what is a good policy.

  • Some of the successful slogans were given by different political parties in various elections.
    1. The Congress Party led by Indira Gandhi gave the slogan of Garibi Hatao(Remove Poverty) in the Lok Sabha elections of 1971.
      The party promised to reorient all the policies of the government to remove poverty from the country.

    2. Save democracy was the slogan given by the Janata party under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan, in the Lok Sabha election held in 1977.
      The party promised to undo the excesses committed during the Emergency and restore civil liberties.

    3. The Left Front used the slogan of Land to the Tiller i n the West Bengal Assembly elections held in 1977.

    4. Protects the Self-Respect of the Telugus was the slogan used by N.T. Rama Rao was the leader of the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections in 1983.
  • According to India’s election law, no party or candidate can :
    1. Bribe or threaten voters
    2. Appeal to them in the name of caste or religion
    3. Use government resources for an election campaign
    4. Spend more than 25 lakh in a constituency for a Lok Sabha election or 10 lakh in a constituency in an Assembly election
  • If any Political Party does so, their election can be rejected by the court . In addition to the laws, all the political parties in our country have agreed to a Model Code of Conduct for election campaigns . According to this, no party or candidate can:
    1. Use any place of worship for election propaganda
    2. Use government vehicles, aircraft, and officials for elections
    3. Once elections are announced, Ministers shall not lay foundation stones for any project s, take any big policy decisions or make any promises of providing public facilities.

Polling and Counting of votes

  • The day when the voters cast or ‘poll’ their vote is called the election day . The voting is done in the following manner.
    1. Every person whose name is on the voters’ list can go to a nearby ‘polling booth’.
    2. Once the voter goes inside the booth, the election officials identify her, put a mark on her finger, and allow her to cast her vote.
    3. An agent of each candidate is allowed to sit inside the polling booth and ensure that the voting takes place in a fair way
  • A ballot paper is a sheet of paper on which the names of the contesting candidates along with party names and symbols are listed. The ballot paper was used earlier. Nowadays, electronic voting machines (EVM) are used to record votes.
    1. The machine shows the names of the candidates and the party symbols.
    2. The voter has to just press the button against the name of the candidate she wants to give her vote to.
    3. Once the polling is over, all the EVMs are sealed and taken to a secure place.
    4. A few days later, all the EVMs are opened and the votes secured by each candidate are counted.
    5. The candidate who secures the highest number of votes from a constituency is declared elected
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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 14 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.