Home News Why does it take six weeks for India to vote?

Why does it take six weeks for India to vote?

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When Indians go to the polls on Friday, it will be just the beginning of a huge democratic process. India won’t know until June 4, six weeks after the vote, whether its powerful Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be re-elected for a third term.

Why does this all take so long?Short answer: India is the most most populous country, with 969 million eligible voters. That’s more than a tenth of the world’s population and about four times the number of eligible voters in the United States, the second-largest democracy.

The longer answer touches on India’s geography, electoral rules, security agencies, holidays and electronic voting machines – a complex choreography for a large and complex country.

From 1951 to 1952, India’s first national parliamentary election lasted more than 120 days. In 1977, they spent five days. But generally speaking, even without primaries, elections take weeks or months because of their size.

The country covers more than one million square miles and has a population spread across big cityscattered everywhere Himalayasinside thar desertin forest and along ganges river.

Indian law also stipulates that voters cannot travel more than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from home to a polling station. To achieve this goal, 12 million election workers will travel across the country this year to set up polling stations, sometimes on foot, bicycles, helicopters or boats, or even on horseback, camels or elephants.

Some of these trips can take several days. In 2019, the highest polling station in the country was located in the Spiti Valley in the Himalayas, at an altitude of over 15,000 feet. In 2009, a team of five Hike deep into Gir Forest Lonely residents make their way to a remote Hindu temple in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

“It’s an honor, it really is,” pastor Bharatdas Darshandas told reporters after that year’s election. “This proves how seriously India values ​​its democracy.”

In the early days of Indian democracy, clashes between supporters of rival political parties turned deadly. The candidate was kidnapped. Local police failed to maintain order and were accused of taking sides under pressure from ruling politicians. Therefore, starting in the 1990s, state paramilitary forces began to be deployed on a large scale in elections.

India will deploy more than 300,000 federal security force members this year to help transport voting machines and maintain peace at polling stations. Since elections cannot cover the entire country in one go, they are divided into multiple phases. During each phase, soldiers move from one area to another.

The security precautions lengthened an election that would have taken days, said Vikram Singh, the former police chief of Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state, who oversaw security forces in past elections. But he said voters are safer as a result.

Violence That’s not common at polling stations these days. The presence of soldiers there also boosted confidence in the election results.

While the multi-stage system prevented outbreaks of violence, it also sparked criticism that it made the election process take too long. SY QuraishiThe gap between phases provides more time for rumors and disinformation to spread, the former chief election commissioner said in an interview.

The Election Commission of India tries to avoid various public holidays and religious festivals in India when arranging voting. Harvest season, academic calendar, exam schedule and weather are also taken into consideration.

Careful planning helps achieve high turnout. In 2019, 67% of voters cast ballots in national elections, the highest participation rate in the country’s history.

One of the festivals during the election period is Mahavir Jayanti on April 21, one of the most important festivals for Jainism, a religion followed by about 6 million people in India. Another festival is Buddha’s Birthday, which is May 23. Monks will transport Buddha’s relics on chariots and people will decorate their homes with flowers and donate them to those in need.

In 2004, electronic voting machines became standard for all national elections in India. They make it easier for millions of people to vote, especially in India’s densely populated cities, where the busiest polling stations can serve as many as 12,000 people on polling day.

These machines are more portable and lighter than traditional ballot boxes. But they must be transported to where the polling stations are set up. Each machine contains a “control unit” that counts and stores votes; a “voting unit” with buttons that voters press; and a printer that creates the paper trail.

They also come with a special carrying case for easy packing. Workers follow careful safeguards to transport them across the country.

Thanks to these machines, votes are counted quickly after the polls close.

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