The world's largest electoral exercise is underway at the moment in India. The largest democracy holds elections after every five years to elect a new government. A staggering number of 814.5 million of voters are registered with the election commission as of January 2014 and nearly 8 million more are likely to be added based on a special drive carried out recently for new voters registration. By all yardsticks of comparison it is a mammoth task.

The number of polling stations to be set up across the country will be 9,30,000 in all sort of terrains. Since many years now voters press their choice button on Electronic Voting Machines known as EVM's. It has made counting very easy, transparent and fast. results are now available in a few hours after counting begins. each EVM can record a total of 3,840 vote and cater to a maximum of 64 candidates. A total of 18,78,306 EVM's will be used during the coming elections.

Elections were held for the first time in India in 1952 and a sum of Rs 10.45 crore was spent. In the last elections held in 2014 a sum of Rs 1,300 crore was spent. It is now estimated that the 2014 elections will cost around Rs 3,500 crore to the Election Commission and Rs 7,000 to 8,000 crore to the central and state governments.   A study conducted by the Centre for Media Studies estimates that a sum of Rs 30,000 crores will be spent by government, political parties and various candidates in the coming elections. Elections are no longer cheap.

In the 2009 elections out of a  total of 8,070 candidates 6,829 lost their security deposits because they failed to poll a minimum of one sixth of the total valid votes polled. Of the total candidates 7,514 were men and only 556 were women. A total of 364 political parties were in the fray of which seven were national parties, 34 were state parties and the rest were registered only parties The limit of Rs 70 lakhs is the maximum a candidate can spend on his Lok Sabha election , while it is Rs 54 lakhs in Goa, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

In the 2004 elections a total of 67.14 crore persons  were registered as voters in the country.The all India average voter turn out was 58.07 %, with highest voter turn out in Nagaland of 91.77% and lowest in J&K were only 35.2% cast their votes. In 2009 elections about 71 crore voters were involved. This figure is now around 82 crore this time.

All elections in India are conducted by the Election Commission of India, which is headed by an Chief Election Commissioner and has two Election Commissioners as colleagues. The Election Commission is a constitutional body and has since past many elections conducted the elections in the country with increasing efficiency and in a fair and just manner. This has increased the confidence of the voters and every election the percent voting has registered an increase. Indian elections are seen world wide as an gigantic exercise but conducted in a free and fair manner. Considerable credit goes to the Election Commission for this.

Another feature of Indian elections is that they are held in phases lasting over several days. The 2014 elections will be held in seven phases over a period of more than a month. One of the reason for thus is the need for providing security at the various polling booths. The deployment of security forces needs to be planned properly. A large number of polling officials drawn from various government departments is employed on the polling days to man the polling booths. 

Nowadays because of EVM's the counting is very fast and generally all the results become available by late evening. The trends are known within a couple of hours of counting. Lok Sabha has 543 members and on an average a MP represents anywhere up to 15 lakhs population depending on the population density of different states. There are some seats which are reserved for SC/ST and there is no cap on how many candidates can contest from a constituency.

The campaigning for the 2014 elections scheduled for April / May has already begun. On May 16th we will come ti know who will be in a position to form the new government based on the largest election exercise in the world. 


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