System of Election
Apart from the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act of 1952 and the Representation of the People Act of 1951, elections are conducted as per the provisions of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961.
Each election has its unique set of requirements.
Lok Sabha Elections
After every five years, the entire country gears up to decide their representatives in the Lower House of Parliament. For Lok Sabha elections (or General Elections), the country is split into different constituencies, and the winner is elected from each constituency.
As per Article 324 of the Indian Constitution, the power of superintendence, direction and control of the conduct of elections is vested with the Election Commission of India.
In its efforts to ensure smooth conduct of the mammoth electoral exercise, the commission is assisted by two Deputy Election Commissioners, who are appointed from the national civil services.
Rajya Sabha Elections
Unlike the Lok Sabha, the members of Rajya Sabha are not directly elected by the electorates. The elections to the Upper House of the Parliament happen through the Legislative Assembly of each state by using the single transferable vote system.
Out of the maximum strength of 250 members, 238 are elected by the legislative assemblies and 12 are nominated by the President of India.
The representatives of states and Union Territories in the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies in accordance with the system of proportional representation. With one-third of its members retiring every two years, the elections to Rajya Sabha happen at respective intervals.
State Legislature Elections
Elections to the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) are conducted in the same way the Lok Sabha elections are carried out.
Electorates consisting of citizens in a state above the age of 18 vote for their state representatives. Each legislative Assembly is formed for a five-year term following which all seats again go to the polls.
The elections to Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishads) replicate the same process as that of Rajya Sabha, wherein the representatives are chosen by the members of the lower house. Besides, the Governor also nominates certain members from the field of art, science, literature, social service and co-operative movement. The elections to these legislative councils are held under the system of proportional representation.
Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections
The President is indirectly elected by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the members of the legislative assemblies of every state and union territory.
The Presidential election is conducted before the present President’s term gets over. The election of the President is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation and the voting happens through a secret ballot.
The Vice-President is elected by a direct vote of all members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The system of proportional representation is followed and the votes are cast through a secret ballot. It’s the Election Commission that conducts the election to the office of the Vice-President.
Who can Vote
The Indian Constitution confers voting rights on any individual who is a citizen of the country and is above 18 years of age.
This minimum-age limit came into effect from March 28, 1989, prior to which it was 21 years. The Constitution does not differentiate between male and female voters, making their votes carry equal weight.
On the same lines, no distinction is made on the basis of colour, race, cast, etc., as long as the said individual is a bonafide citizen of India.
In order to be allotted a polling booth at the time of elections, citizens over 18 years of age are required to register themselves as voters. They can do the same by filling up and submitting Form-6 to the Electoral Registration Officer of their constituency.
For every constituency, there is a list of voters that is called the Electoral Roll. To be able to exercise your vote, your name must be in the Electoral Roll of the area of your residence. The minimum age for the registration of a voter in India is 18 years, as on the first day of January of the year in which the Electoral Roll is prepared or revised.