Election Commission of India: How it Conducts Elections

The Election Commission of India is a nonpartisan power that conducts the election processes for the country. The Election Commission was formed in 1950 as a constitutional body, a few short years after India gained its independence from Britain. The Election Commission is “entrusted with the task of superintendence, direction, and control of all national and state elections”, as well as the responsibility to prepare and review the electoral roles. Specifically, the Election Commission conducts elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, and the Vice President and President offices in India.

 

The Indian Constitution allows for a singular Electoral Commission to administer Parliament and state legislature elections. Outlining the presence of an Election Commission in the Indian Constitution was important to ensure that the entity would have a presence in Indian politics for years to come, as the Commission is vital in protecting the process. The Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 were passed in their respective years, and they helped the Election Commission by outlining the structure of the election process. The Representation of the People Act, 1950 delineates the number of seats and the parliamentary and assembly constituencies, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 discusses the provisions on election conduct. While there have been changes to these initial laws, they provide guidelines to ensure that the elections are conducted in a democratic and systematic matter.

 

The President of India chooses the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners, and the Chief Election Commissioner cannot be stripped of his or her position without the approval of the Supreme Court. This was created as a provision to ensure that the Election Commission would be safeguarded from any government intervention. The Election Commission has also implemented a moral code of conduct, which they administer to ensure that the election process is being conducted in a just manner. The Commission can “suspend or withdraw recognition of a political party for its failure to abide by the model code of conduct or the directions of the EC.” The Election Commission also has the authority to decide election schedules, polling station locations, and counting station locations.

 

For state level elections, the process is overseen by a chosen Chief Election Officer of the State and a supporting team. At district and constituency levels, the District Election Officers, Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers, alongside other junior functionaries, work for the election process. For national level general elections, the Election Commission uses a significant number of resources to successfully carry out the process. This includes about five million police officers and polling staff. The Election Commission supports the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), which India has been utilizing for its elections for over a decade.

 

The Election Commission has recently established the Voter Awareness Forum (VAF) in New Delhi. The Voter Awareness Forum is a way to raise awareness about the election process for the public, and it includes quizzes and discussions. The VAF is an aspect of the Electoral Literacy Club of the Election Commission. Other Chief Electoral Officers and District Election Officers followed suit by launching VAFs in their regions, to raise discussion on importance of voter registration and involvement.