What is 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.