Explained: How Do Presidential Elections In India Take Place?

The next presidential elections in India will be held on July 18 to elect the successor to President Ram Nath Kovind

The Election Commission of India on Thursday announced the schedule of the election to elect the next President of India, which will be held on July 18 to succeed President Ram Nath Kovind, who finishes his five-year term on July 24.

Counting will take place on July 21.

While Kovind is eligible for immediate re-election, it currently remains unclear who will be fielded by major political parties, or the strategies of the parties to approach this election.

Regardless, here is how the election of the President of India takes place in five points

1. Who elects the President of India?

As India is a republic, the election of the President of India lies with the people indirectly through their elected representatives.

The President of India, therefore, is elected through an Electoral College, consisting of the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the Vidhan Sabha of each state as electors. The nominated members of these houses, such as the 12 members nominated to Rajya Sabha by a president due to their exceptional talent or contribution to society, cannot vote during the presidential election.

The Electoral College stands at a total of 4,809 eligible electors, with 776 of them being Members of Parliament (243 members of Rajya Sabha and 543 members of Lok Sabha) and the remaining 4,033 being MLAs of assemblies of various states (and UTs of Delhi and Puducherry, which have their own legislature).

In the 2017 election, the number of electors was 4,120, but this year, there will be no electors from Jammu and Kashmir, whose erstwhile assembly had 87 members (4,120 members minus 87 members yields 4,033 members).

2. Who is eligible to run for President of India?

Indian nationals, above the age of 35 and who otherwise qualify to be members of Lok Sabha and do not hold an office of profit under the government, are eligible to stand for president. However, their nomination must be proposed by 50 electors and seconded by an additional 50 electors.

Additionally, those desirous of contesting must deposit ₹15,000 as a security deposit with the Election Commission of India. It will be forfeited if a candidate cannot garner a sixth of the total vote, or else it will be returned.

3. How does voting take place?

The election for the president shall take place through a system of proportionate representation transferrable through a single vote taking place through a secret ballot.

4. What is secret ballot and how is the value of a vote determined?

The secret ballot is simple enough to understand. It means that each elector casts votes secretly and can vote his choice according to his will. Party whips, stances and the Anti-Defection Law does not apply to the presidential election.

The voting system means that even though every elector gets to cast one vote, the value of each vote is not the same.

The value of each vote is determined by whether the elector is an MP or an MLA, and if an MLA, the state from which they hail.

Also Read:What Is The Anti-Defection Law In India, And Is It Working As It Should?

An MP, regardless of whether they are from the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, have the same value for their votes. The value of an MP's vote is 700, which is gained by dividing India's population according to the 1971 census by the number of MPs (776), and further dividing the quotient by 1000.

Therefore, the total value of their votes is 5,43,200 (776 multiplied by 700).

The value of votes of each MLA is similarly obtained by dividing the population of state from which they hail (according to the 1971 census) by their elected assembly seats, and further dividing the quotient by 1,000.

Therefore, due to its population, an MLA from Uttar Pradesh will cast a vote with a value of 208 per vote, the highest among all states. This can be found by dividing UP's population according to the 1971 census (8,38,49,905) by the assembly seats in the state (403), to yield 208,064. When this is further divided by 1000, it yields 208.064, which is rounded to 208.

Using the same method, an MLA from Sikkim has the vote with the least value, at just 7 per vote.

Together, the MLAs have 5,43,231, almost equal to that of the MPs.

This means that adding the value of votes for MLAs and MPs, a value of 10,86,431 is up for grabs. However, this is the maximum attainable value, as some electors may not vote on election day, or some votes could be declared invalid.

5. How does counting take place?

An MLA is given a green voting slip while an MP is given a pink voting slip.

Each slip has the names of the candidates in the fray printed on them. The electors then rank the candidates in the order of their personal preference. They need to mark as many preferences as there are candidates by adding numbers ('1' for first preference, '2' for the second and so on) against the candidates' name.

To win the election, a candidate must secure the values of votes above a quota. The quota is 50% of the value of valid votes plus one, which is the majority mark.

In the first round of counting, the first preference votes are counted. If a candidate secures the quota, he gets elected as the President of India. If no candidate can secure the quota, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated from the fray and the votes gained by him are redistributed to the remaining candidates on the basis of the second preference of these votes.

This process goes on till one candidate is declared elected by crossing the quota.

The Election Commission's data can be seen here.

Also Read: RBI Hikes Repo Rate By 50 Bps To 4.9%, Home Loans To Get Costlier

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