Election Commission

Election Commission and Democracy: Of the people, by the people and for the people

India is world’s largest democracy. The world’s oldest civilisation is currently a constitutional democracy with a vibrant parliamentary form of government.The Election Commission - one of the most important pillars in a democracy - has played a seminal role in strengthening and deepening the roots of democracy in India. The right to vote and elect representatives to the parliament and state legislatures is the very heart of democracy. Nasim Zaidi is the chief election commissioner of India while A. K. Joti and Prakash Rawat are the Election Commissioners. The Election Commission is responsible for conducting free and fair elections in the country. Electoral rolls are prepared after house-to-house enumeration by official enumerators monitored by the Election Commission.

Election Laws

The two major election laws in India are the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951. While the Representation of the People Act, 1950 is related to both preparation and revision of electoral rolls, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 deals with smooth conduct of elections and disputes. It is important to note that Election Commission holds residuary powers to act in an appropriate manner in the conduct of elections, in case any law is silent or does not cover a matter adequately.

Right to Vote

All citizens of India have the right to vote by registering as voters in constituencies where they reside, provided they are 18 years of age as on the first day of the year for which an electoral roll is prepared. It is important to note that individuals who have been disqualified by courts for çorrupt practices or any offense related to elections are not eligible to vote. Similarly, persons with an unsound mind cannot be registered as voters.

Electoral Rolls

An electoral roll is a list of eligible citizens entitled to exercise their franchise. In other words, an electoral roll consists of names of eligible voters who can cast their votes in an election. India is divided into various constituencies. As per Article 82 of the Constitution of India, the Parliament has to enact a Delimitation Act once in 10 years or after every census. The central government sets up a Delimitation Commission which demarcates the boundaries of all parliamentary constituencies. India has 543 Parliamentary constituencies which have been created based on the 2001 census and will be remain so till 2026.

Indian citizens whose names are included in an electoral roll are eligible to vote. It is important to note that an electoral roll is revised on an yearly basis for various reasons including enrolment of new voters who turn 18 in a given year and also include citizens who move into a different constituency among others. In many cases, names of voters who have expired should be removed from an electoral roll. According to election commission, no voter should commute for more than 2 kms to cast his or her vote at a polling booth. Also, no polling booth should have more than 1500 voters. In case an eligible voter does not find his name on an electoral roll, he should file a claim application (Form 6) before the Electoral Registration Officer in his constituency. For deletion of names from the electoral list, form No. 7 is used. Similarly, for any changes in the house number, name, age and so forth of an elector, form no.8 should be used. Form 8A can used in cases where an elector changes his house in the same assembly constituency.

It is important to note that the process of updation of electoral rolls may continue even after the publication of electoral rolls in that individuals can file the required applications for the deletion, transposition, addition and so forth with the Electoral Registration Officer.

An elector has to identify himself with an Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) which is issued by the Election Commission. However, an EPIC alone will not allow an elector to cast his vote in that his name should be listed in the electoral roll for him to exercise his franchise.

Polling

Polling is conducted on different days in different constituencies to ensure law and order for free and fair elections. The Returning Officer draws up the list of candidates who compete in a given election after all candidates complete the process of filing their nominations. Ballot papers are then printed along with the names and symbols of candidates. Candidates who hail from nationally or regionally recognised parties are provided the symbols of their respective parties.

The date and hours for polling are fixed by the Election Commission of India before all elections. Voting at all polling booths set up in public institutions across the country is held by secret ballot. An elector is allocated a ballot paper, provided his or her name is mentioned in the electoral roll. An elector has to indicate his choice of candidate by marking his ballot paper with a stamp on the related symbol. After marking his choice, an elector has to put his ballot paper in a ballot box in the presence of the Presiding Officer and some polling agents. However, the Election Commission since 1998 has advocated the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) rather than ballot boxes. The Election Commission appoints many observers for smooth conduct of elections and also keep a check on the money spent by candidates and parties.

Upon entering a polling booth or station, an elector has to go to the First Polling Officer who is in charge of proper identification of electors. The First Polling Officer announces the name of the elector and his serial number in the presence of polling agents. The elector then has to proceed towards the Second Polling Officer who will mark his left forefinger with an indelible ink, following which, the former has to sign in the Register of Voters. The Second Polling Officer will then give the elector a voter’s slip. The elector has to give the voter’s slip to the Third Polling Officer who will then press the ‘ballot’ button on the voting machine. The elector should then proceed to the voting compartment based on his serial number in the voters’ register.

In case an elector decides not to exercise his franchise, he must inform the presiding officer who will then take the former’s voter’s slip and make an entry in the remarks column of the Register of Voters. In case an elector finds that his vote has already been cast as informed by the First Polling Officer, he should bring it to the notice of Presiding Officer of the polling station. After the polling process is complete, the counting of votes is duly supervised by the observers and Returning Officers. The Returning Officer announces the name of the winner (s).

Credentials of competing candidates

The Election Commission of India has made it mandatory for all candidates to file affidavits along with nomination forms with details of their criminal antecedents, assets, liabilities and educational background. All Indian citizens of the country can, if they wish to, acquire copies of affidavits and nomination forms of candidates from Returning Officers.

Corrupt Electoral Practices

There are several practices which are considered electoral offenses as listed below:

  • Accepting money or any other form of gratification to vote for a candidate
  • Acceptance of gifts and liquor among others to not vote for a candidate
  • Offer free conveyance to electors as inducement to influence voting decisions
  • Offering any form of inducement to voters on the basis of caste, religion or place of birth
  • Threatening electors with excommunication

It is important to note that no voter should disclose details of who he voted for. In case a voter violates the secrecy, he will be booked under Section 128 of Representation of People Act, 1951.

Grievance Redressal mechanisms

In case an elector has any issue related to elections, he may contact some officials as listed below:

Officer Level
Officer Level
Chief Electoral Officer State
District Election Officer District
Returning Officer Constituency
Assistant Returning Officer Taluka
Electoral Registration Officer Constituency
Presiding Officer 1 Polling Station
Zonal Officer Polling Stations

*Disclaimer

News About Election Commission

  • Electoral bonds a cause of major concern for EC

     The electoral bonds are proving to be a cause of major concern for the election commission. In 2017, the central government made changes to the financial bill under which was sharply criticised and objected by the election commission. As per the amendments made to the financial bill, the political parties would no longer be required to declare electoral bonds to the election commission. This could make it easier for the parties to also receive black money in the form of donations. This has been a major source of concern for the election commission.

    The ECI has demanded that the amendment made by the government to the financial bill be reversed. The amendment states that “It is proposed to provide that the contributions received by way of electoral bond shall be excluded from the scope of sub-section (3) of section 29C of the said Act.”  

    24 December 2018

  • EC asks for parties to limit the expenditure on candidates during elections

    The election commission has asked the political parties to put a cap on the spending on its candidates during the elections. As per the law laid down by the election commission, the cap of expenditure on candidates by political parties has been set at 50% of the maximum expenditure ceiling. The law of expenditure is included in the Representation of the People Act and Rule 90 of The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961. If the recommendations by the EC are accepted by the government, no political party will be able to spend more than 25 to 35 lakh rupees on the candidate during the Lok Sabha elections and Rs.10 to 14 Lakh at the time of legislative assembly elections.

    The EC has decided to crack down on the spending by political parties during the elections as it wants to create a level playing field for all political parties during elections. It also wants to curb the money power of the traditional political parties in the country. Despite the EC’s initiatives, there is still no cap on the amount of money that political parties spend on candidates during elections. The average expenditure by political parties during Lok Sabha elections is Rs.50 to 70 Lakh and for legislative assembly elections it is Rs. 20 to 28 Lakh.  

    20 December 2018

  • EC asks Delhi government to stop collecting information about voters

    The Election Commission has asked the Delhi government to stop collecting information about the families of school students. In a letter that was addressed to the chief secretary Vijay Dev, the EC has clearly stated that collecting data about the families of the school students is illegal. It has been reported earlier that the vice chief minister of the Delhi government, Manish Sisodia had objected to the letter sent by the election commission and had even asked the chief secretary not to follow the directive of not collecting personal data of families of school students.

    Sisodia argued that the ECs order of banning Dev from collecting data at a time when elections were not going to be conducted was absurd and interfering with the work of the state government. However, the EC has shot back saying that any matter related to electoral data falls under the jurisdiction of the EC and any directive provided by the same organisation has to be followed. The state government has said that the collection  of data of families of school students will help in creating a databank of students of Delhi to verify the residential address, and its analysis will help the government in both short- and long-term planning.

    17 December 2018

  • EC asked to publicize NOTA button

    A divisional bench comprising of Justice SC Sharma and Justice Virendra Singh has directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to publicize the ‘None of the above’ (NOTA) button. The judgment came after a Ujjain-based advocate filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding the matter. The bench in its verdict stated that going forward the ECI must give wide publicity to the all the guidelines that it has framed regarding elections in the country.

    It needs to be mentioned here that the petitioner in his PIL had sought that boards are set up outside each polling booth to make voters aware of the NOTA button. Yashwant Agnihotri, who had filed the PIL had also sought NGOs and other authorities are allowed to publicize NOTA and let voters know that they can press the NOTA button if they do not want to give their vote to a particular individual or party.

    It is noteworthy to mention that earlier a PIL was rejected by the court which sought permission of Ujjain collector to publicize NOTA in the city.

    4 December 2018

  • EC asked to publicize NOTA button

    A divisional bench comprising of Justice SC Sharma and Justice Virendra Singh has directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to publicize the ‘None of the above’ (NOTA) button. The judgment came after a Ujjain-based advocate filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding the matter. The bench in its verdict stated that going forward the ECI must give wide publicity to the all the guidelines that it has framed regarding elections in the country.

    It needs to be mentioned here that the petitioner in his PIL had sought that boards are set up outside each polling booth to make voters aware of the NOTA button. Yashwant Agnihotri, who had filed the PIL had also sought NGOs and other authorities are allowed to publicize NOTA and let voters know that they can press the NOTA button if they do not want to give their vote to a particular individual or party.

    It is noteworthy to mention that earlier a PIL was rejected by the court which sought permission of Ujjain collector to publicize NOTA in the city.

    4 December 2018

  • EC working hard to ensure that elections are accessible for everyone

    The election commission is taking every step to ensure that the upcoming elections are accessible in every way for the differently abled registered voters. A few examples of the initiatives taken by EC to do so are arranging pick and up drop facility for the differently abled registered voters and introduction of the braille voter ID card that would be printed over the normal voter ID card.

    The conduction of legislative assembly elections have been recently concluded in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. As per data provided by the election commission, a total of 3.40 lakh registered voters in Madhya Pradesh were specially abled while in Chhattisgarh, the number was recorded at 1.12 lakh. The election commission has directed the chief election commissioners of all the states to assign officers so that the initiatives of providing transport and distribution of braille cards is done properly. As per the directive, every registered specially abled has to be escorted from his or her residence to the polling booth and back. In addition to this, the polling booth should also be selected as per preference of the voter so that he or she has no problems in doing so.      

    4 December 2018

  • Sunil Arora appointed as the new election commission chief

    President of India Ram Nath Kovind has appointed Sunil Arora as the new election commission chief. He will take charge from 2nd December and succeed OP Rawat in office. The appointment was made on Monday. The first responsibility faced by the new Chief Election Commissioner will be to ensure that the general elections in early 2019 are held fairly. The appointment was made on Monday after the central government cleared his name paving the way for him to become the 23rd CEC of India. Arora had been previously inducted into the Election Commission in September 2017.

     

    Sunil Arora was an IAS officer graduating from the batch of 1980 having also served in the ministries such as finance, textiles and planning commission and civil aviation. Sunil Arora has also held the post of joint secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation during 1999-2002 and CMD, Indian Airlines, for five years -- two years as additional charge and three years as full charge.

    28 November 2018

  • Daily cash transaction limit for candidates lowered by the election commission

    The election commission has lowered the daily cash transaction keeping in mind the election season that is coming up. The initiative has been taken by the election commission in order to stem the flow of cash in electioneering. The daily cash transaction limit has been lowered from Rs.20000 per day to Rs.10000 per day. The election commission has sent an instruction to the all the state election commissioners about the same matter. In case, a transaction of more than Rs.10000 has to be made, it has to be done via cross cheques, drafts or electronic means, including NEFT/RTGS, through the account of the candidate opened for electioneering.  

    The new changes have come into effect since November 12 and will be implemented in the five states namely Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana where the elections will be or are being conducted within the space of a month. The initiative has been brought onto the scene to bring more transparency to the whole process. The election commission is planning to introduce a commission cap for all political parties as well. Currently there is no cap on the amount which the political parties can spend on.   

    27 November 2018

  • SIT asks EC to find ultimate beneficiaries of seized cash, gold and drugs during elections

    The Special Investigation Committee (SIT) has asked the election commission and law enforcement agencies to find the real beneficiaries of the cash, gold and drugs that is seized during the election season. The SIT conducted a meeting in New Delhi and asked the EC to not only catch the carriers of the illegal items that are seized during the elections like truck drivers or couriers but also the real brains behind these crimes. With elections looming in five different states in the country, the election commission has already seized cash, gold, diamond and drugs worth Rs.172 crore. The three biggest states with seized cash are Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana with seized amount of Rs.70 crore, Rs.58 crore and Rs.28 crore respectively.

    During the seizing, the authorities have found pink diamonds which has happened for the first time. The value of the seized pink diamonds is in crores of rupees. The SIT has also directed the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to recover half the value if the person in question files a case against the tax assessment.        

    21 November 2018

  • High court seeks clarification on fake voters from EC

    High Court of Hyderabad has asked clarification from the election commission asking where it stands on the PIL filed regarding not finalising the electoral list in Andhra Pradesh until all the bogus and fake names are deleted from it. The decision was made by the high court bench consisting of Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice SV Bhatt. The PIL has been filed by Kethireddy Venkatarami who is the former MLA of Anantapur district. Venkatarami’s counsel, P Sudhakar Reddy told the high court that there were 53 fake or bogus names in the electoral roll.

     

    As per the petition, there are about 53 lakh bogus and fake names in the electoral roll and the election commission having failed to take any action regarding the matter. The petitioner has asked the high court to order the election commission to prosecute the booth level officers for not doing their duty which was to prepare the correct and revised version of the electoral rolls.

    The election commission has responded to the court order by saying that it will prepare a set of fresh electoral rolls for the upcoming elections by 1st January, 2019. The list will be up for everyone to see on January 4, 2019.   

    21 November 2018

Voter ID Card by State
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