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Electoral Process

Electoral Process in India takes at least a month for state assembly elections with the duration increasing further for the General Elections, as the sheer size of the electorate and immense logistics require the general election be conducted in a number of phases. Publishing of electoral rolls is a key process that happens before the elections and is vital for the conduct of elections in India. Indian Constitution set 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 one week prior to the last date for nomination of candidates. Apart from this, ECI conducts periodical door-to-door voter registration/verification drives and publishes the electoral rolls online and offline, where electoral are made public at Head Post Offices of a town/city.

Pre elections

Before the elections, the election commission announces the dates of nomination, polling and counting. The model code of conduct comes in force from the day the dates are announced. The model code of conduct is a code of conduct mutually agreed upon by various parties to be followed during the elections.

The code of conduct specifies that the central and state governments cannot announce any major sops to the electorate to prevent any unfair swings in the voting pattern. No party is allowed to use the government resources for campaigning. Candidates are required to declare their assets, age, educational qualifications and criminal history. Convicted criminals are debarred from standing in the elections as well as disfranchised. Persons still on trial may contest, but can be debarred if found guilty. The code of conduct stipulates that campaigning be stopped 48 hours prior to polling day.

Like-minded political parties form alliances and seat-sharing arrangements in each state. Alliances are even formed after the elections to enable government formation. It is not unlikely to see parties having won mandate from people on opposing platforms come toegther for the sake of power. This negates the democratic aspect of the exercise and at times the common voter ends up with a government which he may have voted against in large number. The seat-sharing arrangement helps the alliance field a candidate from one party to prevent splitting of the votes. For a long time, extravagant electoral spending by the parties and candidates alike had much impact on vote swing. The stakes in the elections are so huge that extravagant spending by political parties ranged from putting up huge hoardings, posting posters on walls, and giving freebies (political parties used to give colour televisions and gold coins as gifts) during campaigning. Today, the model code of conduct theoretically bans such extravagant spending during campaigning, aims to protect voters from harassment by the parties and also imposes ban on use of loudspeakers after 10pm.

Voting Day

Campaigning ends the day before the voting day. Government schools and colleges are chosen to be the polling stations. The day of the elections is declared a holiday and all liquor shops and bars are shut down. The Collector of each district is in charge of polling. Government servants 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 manufactured by the Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited 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 and prevents bogus voting.

Post elections

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 and typically, the verdict is known within a few 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.

Nine Unknown Men

Nine Unknown Men are a two millennia-old secret society founded by the Indian Emperor Asoka.