Since everything has gone digital at a fast pace, the Election Commission of India (ECI) is not behind. They have launched two online portals to ease out the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The first portal is to handle the grievances of voters and the second portal is to offer services to voters.
Election Commission of India has undertaken a new initiative by designing a Mobile Application for voters. The app aims to provide a single point of service and information delivery to voters across the country. This is primarily to promote transparency and develop a culture of avid electoral engagement in the nation.
Besides these internet-based options, the Electoral Commission of India (ECI) has also launched a helpline number, 1950, to address the grievances of the voters and offer services such as new voter registration, changes in voter id, etc. This is primarily for the voters in the areas where the internet is not accessible.
The ECI has also started a Voters Awareness campaign PAN India, which aims to motivate each and every voter to cast their vote. This year, it is 'maha tyohar' in Indian democracy.
All these measures have revolutionized the upcoming General elections in India. It has highlighted that the power of a democracy lies in the hands of its people and every vote counts.
As the world’s largest democracy, India, looks forward to the Lok Sabha elections 2019, here are some voting and election-related questions that we all must know as citizens of India:
1. What form do I need to fill to register as a voter at my native place in India?
You need to fill form 6A to register yourself as a voter at your native village in India. Once you fill the form and your details are verified, you get the EPIC number and the voter ID card.
2. Which documents are required to register as a voter online?
The online registration process of a new Voter ID is very simple. To apply for a voter ID card online, you would require the following documents: (a) One passport sized photograph, (b) Identity proof- this could be a birth certificate, passport, driving license, PAN Card or high school mark sheet, and (c) Address proof- this could be ration card, your passport, driving license or a utility bill (phone or electricity).
3. How to check my name in the voters' list?
There are 4 ways by which you can check your name in the voters' list using the EPIC number issued to you. Pick one and go verify yourself for Lok Sabha India elections 2019.
a) SMS to 1950 (voter helpline number India)
b) call on 1950 (voters helpline number India)
c) visit the NVSP online portal and check your name
d) download the Voter Helpline App to check your name in voter list.
4. What form do I need to fill to change my details in the electoral roll?
You need to fill form 8A in case you have to get any corrections done in your electoral roll. In the case of a change of address, the amendments are not possible. The old voter ID must be canceled and new must be applied.
5. What form do I need to fill in case I am a defense services officer and need to vote from my duty station constituency?
You need to fill form 2 in case you have are an on-duty officer and need to vote from your duty constituency. You will be issued the booth or else, in case of remote locations, postal vote would be considered.
6. How to track my application status online and offline?
For checking online, you can log on to nvsp.in and click on ‘track application’. Enter your reference number and see the progress. Otherwise, the offline method is to call 1950 and submit your reference number. By both the ways, you will be able to track your application status.
7. Can a non-citizen of India become a voter in the electoral rolls in India?
No. A person who is not a citizen of India is not eligible for registration as a voter in the electoral rolls in India. Even those who have ceased to be citizens of India on acquiring the citizenship of another country are not eligible to be enrolled in the electoral rolls in India.
8. What are the voting rights of Non-resident Indians?
As long as NRIs have not acquired citizenship of any other country and are otherwise eligible to be registered as a voter at their place of residence in India, they are capable of giving a vote in Indian elections.
9. How to find the details about the candidate of my constituency?
The digital age comes with a lot of mobile applications. The ECI has launched Voter Helpline App for furnishing the details about the candidates of each constituency to the voters. Otherwise, they can visit the online portal where candidate affidavits are available. This data is updated as affidavits are filed by candidates.
10. How to find the details about the polling booth location for a particular voter?
There are four ways to obtain the name of the polling booth for a particular voter. Voters can (a) go to electoralsearch.in, (b) use Voter Helpline App, (c) call the Voter Helpline, the number is 1950 (please add your STD code before dialing) and (d) SMS <ECIPS> space <EPIC No> to 1950, to find their polling booth station location.
11. What are EVMs? What are VVPATs?
An EVM or Electronic Voting Machine is an electronic device for recording votes. It consists of two units - a control unit and a balloting unit. Since 2010, the Election Commission has been phasing in a third unit called the VVPAT or the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail, which allows voters to verify that their votes have been recorded correctly by printing a paper receipt. This system will be used with all voting machines in the upcoming assembly and general elections.
12. How EVM VVPATs are stored at the constituencies?
All EVM VVPATs are stored in strong rooms in the constituencies under strict security cover of Central Paramilitary forces. The District Election Officers and SPs are ordered to monitor the security on a daily basis.
13. How to record the vote using the EVM (Electronic Voting Machine) at Polling Booth?
Using EVM is very simple. To cast your vote, press the ballot button opposite to the symbol of the candidate of your choice on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). You will hear a beep sound after pressing. Check the slip that appears in the transparent window of the VVPAT machine. The slip with the Candidate serial No., Name and Symbol shall be visible for 7 seconds before it drops in the sealed VVPAT box. In case you choose NOTA, the last button on the EVM, nothing appears on the screen and your vote is recorded.
14. How can specially abled people vote in the elections?
The PwD app is out there to help specially abled people cast their votes. The ECI’s PwD app gives doorstep facility to specially abled people by BLO. They can also request for a wheelchair to go to the booth using the PwD app. They just have to share their contact details on the app.
15. What is NOTA and when was it introduced?
NOTA or "None Of The Above" is a voting option on EVMs that allows voters to reject every candidate in their constituency. It was introduced In October 2013 following a Supreme Court order.
16. Are cell phones allowed inside the polling booth?
Voters are allowed to carry mobile phones but they won't be allowed to use their devices in the polling booth. Voters should ideally not use their cell phones in 100 m radius of the polling booths. Mobile phones must be kept in silent mode or switched off.
17. What minimum facilities should be there at the polling booths?
The polling stations must have the following minimum facilities: a temporary/permanent ramp to facilitate the PwD (Persons with Disabilities) voters, proper arrangement for drinking water facilities, appropriate lighting facilities, adequate furniture like tables, chairs and benches for voters, medical facilities, proper electricity supply including hiring generators, help desk, proper signage, toilets, shade for the ladies/ senior citizens/differently-abled voters and children accompanying them, Volunteers from NCC/NSS/Scout & Guides/ Chunavi Pathshala for guiding voters, and posters to disseminate information to the electors must be there at the polling booth.
18. How many officers are there at the polling booth and what are their respective responsibilities?
There are three polling officials inside the polling station on the day of polling. 1st Polling Officer checks the identity document of the voter & identifies the name on the marked copy of electoral roll. 2nd Polling Officer will ink the finger of the voter, take the sign or thumb impression of the voter on a register and give the voter a slip. 3rd Polling Officer will check the inked finger of the voter, collect the slip from the voter and then activate the Ballot Unit of EVM to allow the voter to Vote on the Ballot Unit.
19. In which order do the names of the candidates appear in the ballot unit of EVM?
The names of candidates appear in alphabetical order within each category. Category 1: Candidates of Recognised National Political Parties and State political parties in the State, Category 2: Candidates of Registered Unrecognized Political parties, Category 3: Other (Independent)
20. What is the Model Code of Conduct in India?
Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a set of guidelines enforced by the Election Commission of India (ECI) for free and fair polls.
21. What are some common violations of the Model Code of Conduct?
Political parties and candidates violate the MCC with regard to funding, expenditure, publicity, personal allegations, use of unaccounted money and offering liquor to lure voters. These are common violations.
22. What is the Model Code of Conduct for the use of loudspeakers?
Once the Model Code of Conduct comes into force, the loudspeakers can’t be used for election campaigning between 10 PM and 6 AM.
23. What is the Model Code of Conduct for rallies and road shows?
Once the Model Code of Conduct comes into force, election campaign rallies and road shows must not hinder the road traffic. Also, contesting candidates and their campaigners must respect the home life of their rivals and should not disturb them by holding road shows or demonstrations in front of their houses.
24. What is the Model Code of Conduct guideline for printed promotional materials?
The contesting candidates or political parties should not display their election symbols near and around the poll booths on the polling day. Besides this, no political party can use pictures of defense and military personnel in any advertisements, posters, or for any other campaign-related activities.
25. How does the enforcement of Model Code of Conduct affect the functioning of the nation?
The government may not lay any new ground for projects or public initiatives once the Model Code of Conduct comes into force. The election code in force hinders the government or ruling party leaders from launching new welfare programs like construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities, etc. or any ribbon-cutting ceremonies. The ruling party should not use its seat of power for the campaign purposes.
26. How can I report the violation of Model Code of Conduct during elections?
Electoral Commission of India has launched a mobile application 'cVigil' for citizens to report any violation of the model code of conduct during elections. ECI has put a check by turning citizens into detectives for a stronger democracy. In case any violation is found, strict action is taken against the candidate. The app will be operational only in election-bound states where dates of polling have been announced.
27. What is maximum spending limit for campaigning by a candidate in a constituency in Uttar Prradesh for the parliamentary election?
Rupees 70 lakhs is the maximum spending limit for promotions and election campaigning by a candidate in any one constituency in Uttar Pradesh. If the amount spent exceeds in any manner, the candidate is found violating the election norms. However, this is not to be confused by the limit for election expenditure on campaigning by a political party.
28. How is the amount spent in campaigning by candidates during elections maintained?
The account of amount spend during elections in campaigning is maintained by the respective candidates for themselves. The election expenditure is submitted to the District Election Officer (DEO) within 30 days of declaration of result. In case a candidate fails to submit the account or, submits it in an unacceptable manner, the candidate may be disqualified for the next 3 years. He or she may not contest elections thereafter.
29. Which section of people's act prohibits people from taking money to vote for a candidate?
Section 123 of People's Act of Indian Constitution considers acceptance of money to vote for a candidate a corrupt practice. Thus, it prohibits people to take money to give vote under the pretext of bribery.
30. How do candidates enter the polling booth?
A candidate can contest elections only when he or she is registered as a voter of India, which means he or she must be a citizen of India. The candidates contesting elections enter the polling booth with a valid pass from the Election Commission. They are supposed to cooperate with the poll-duty officials at the voting booths for an orderly voting process.
31. What is the procedure when two candidates obtain the highest and equal number of votes?
In case of a tie, when two candidates obtain the highest and equal number of votes, the result is decided by a draw of lots. The method is determined by the Returning Officer.
32. What would happen if the number of NOTA votes were higher than the votes for main parties contesting?
According to the Election Commission, even if the number of voters choosing NOTA is higher than the number of votes polled by any of the candidates, the candidate who has the largest number of votes has to be declared elected.
33. How are the votes counted after the polls in India?
The counting process takes place after the polling of each phase is complete. The Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) are inspected by the counting staff and agents before the counting begins. Postal Ballot (PB) papers are counted first. The counting of EVM votes begins 30 minutes after the PB counting starts. After counting of one round is over the EVMs are resealed for the next phase.
34. In how many phases the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 will be held?
The 2019 Lok Sabha elections are scheduled from 11 Apr 2019 – 23 May 2019 in 7 phases. You can visit electoralsearch.in to check the exact date of polling in your constituency. The phases are divided as follows - Phase 1 - 11th Apr, Phase 2 - 18th April, Phase 3 - 23rd April, Phase 4 - 29th April, Phase 5 - 6th May, Phase 6 - 12th May, Phase 7 - 19th May. Election results will be announced on 23rd May.
35. Are Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections simultaneously possible?
Yes, the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections are held simultaneously. In fact, this year, in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim, Vidhan Sabha elections will be held in parallel to Lok Sabha Elections. This process will be facilitated by setting up two EVMs for Lok Sabha contestants and Vidhan Sabha contestants respectively. This can be done on the same booth or different booths as required. The candidates will use the same Voter ID to cast votes.
36. How are member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elected?
The 543 members of Lok Sabha are elected by the system called First Past The Post, while the 238 members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the system of Single Transferable Vote. First Past The Post denotes an an electoral system in which a candidate or party is selected by achievement of a simple majority. Single Transferable Vote denotes an election system that achieves proportional representation through ranked voting.
37. Is voter ID card mandatory for polling?
'Voter ID' card is not compulsory. Voters can carry any of the recognised ID cards for polling . These include EPIC (Voter ID card), Passport, Driving License, Service Identity Cards with photograph issued to employees by Central/State Govt./PSUs/Public Limited Companies, Passbooks with photograph issued by Bank/Post Office, PAN Card, Smart Card issued by RGI under NPR, MNREGA Job Card (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee), Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of Ministry of Labour, Pension document with photograph, Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs, and Aadhaar Card.
38. How did the minimum voting age in India change from 21 to 18 years?
The minimum voting age in India changed from 21 to 18 years by way of an amendment in the Indian Constitution. It was the 61st Amendment Act, 1988, that took place by amending Article 326 of the Indian Constitution, which relates to the elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies.
39. What prevents a person from enrolling as a voter in more than one place in India?
Section 17 and 18 of the R P Act ,1950 of Indian Constitution prohibit and thus prevent a person from enrolling as a voter in more than one place in India.
40. What is the deadline for candidates polling for elections?
The deadline of candidates polling for elections is 48 hours before the conclusion of poll. After that, the polling booth is closed and even if the voter is registered, he or she cannot cast their vote.
41. Is there a holiday for Indian elections?
Very important question. But no, not across the country. Some regions do have a holiday, some don’t, and some are currently asking for it. In some states, laws do allow workers a paid leave to vote.