Introduction: Right to Vote
India is a country where people of a different race, caste, religion, and creed live together. All these are the inalienable features of the Indian Constitution which are mentioned in its Preamble as Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, and Republic. The concept of a right to vote comes under Democracy. The Constitution of India adopted a Parliamentary form of Government.
An example of being a democratic country can be given from the present scenario itself. The protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, and National Register of Citizens show that people of India do have the right to express their views even after a Bill has been passed and became a Law.
Who Can Vote?
While thinking of the word vote, the first phrase that comes in the mind of the people is ‘Of the people, by the people, and for the people’. Being a Democratic country, people of India choose their political leaders with the system of voting. This system is being predominant since Independence.
The democratic system in India is based on the principle of Universal Adult Franchise. This means that any citizen over the age of 18 can vote in an election. The right to vote is irrespective of caste, creed, religion, or gender. However, the people who are deemed unsound of mind, and people convicted of certain criminal offences are not allowed to vote.
Independent Election Commission
Since 25th January 1950, the Election Commission of India is an independent Constitutional Authority. The Election Commission of India, established in 1950 has been the major body responsible for the 4 major elections in India which are:
- Lok Sabha Elections
- State Legislative Assembly Election
- Members of Parliament in Rajya Sabha
- Elections for the members of Local Panchayat and City Council Officials.
Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners enjoy the status of a Judge of the Supreme Court of India. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only by Parliamentary impeachment. The Election Commission has many functions and some of them are that:
- it prepares, maintains and periodically updates the Electoral Rolls, which show who is entitled to vote,
- supervises the nomination of candidates,
- registers political parties,
- Monitors the election campaign, including the funding and exponential by candidates.
Rajya Sabha – The Council of States
The members of the Rajya Sabha are elected indirectly, rather than by the citizens at large. Rajya Sabha members are elected using the single transferable vote system. Apart from the elected members, there are some members nominated by the President from amongst eminent personalities in the field of literature, science, art, and social services. Rajya Sabha members can serve for six years, and elections are staggered, with one-third of the council being elected every 2 years.
Lok Sabha – House Of the People
The President of India is the head of the state who appoints the Prime Minister, to head the Council of Ministers, which runs the Government, according to the political composition of the Lok Sabha. Although the Government is headed by a Prime Minister, the Cabinet is the central decision-making body of the Government. Members of more than one party can make up a Government, and although the governing parties may be a minority in Lok Sabha, they can only govern as long as they have the confidence of a majority of MPs, the members of the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha is the main legislative body, along with the Rajya Sabha. The members of Lok Sabha elected directly by the adult citizens of India from single-member territorial Parliamentary Constituencies. At present, there are 543 direct elected members of Lok Sabha apart from two members nominated by the President to represent Anglo Indian Community.
Who can stand for Election
Any Indian citizen who is registered as a voter is otherwise not disqualified under the Law and is over 25 years of age is allowed to contest elections to the Lok Sabha or State Legislative Assemblies. For the Rajya Sabha, the age limit is 30 years. Every candidate has to deposit Rs. 25,000/- for the Lok Sabha election and Rs. 10,000/- for Rajya Sabha, except for candidates from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who pay half of these amounts.
Elaborate security management techniques are required to conduct elections in a vast country like India. Various factors should be kept in mind and some of them include ensuring the security of polling personnel, security at the polling stations, security of polling materials, and also the overall security of the election process. Central Armed Para Forces are deployed for area domination before the poll to build confidence in the minds of voters especially vulnerable voters i.e. weaker sections, minorities, etc.
Another aspect which we see during the elections is the use of money power. People using money purchase votes of the people by making false promises to them. Curbing money power during elections is still one of the toughest challenges which need to be overcome.