The first general election in India after independence was conducted in 1951, for 489 constituencies representing twenty-six states. During that time, few two seats and even three seat constituencies prevailed but after 1960 the system of multi seat constituencies were discontinued. Till the early 1970's Congress dominated Indian politics. After the emergency was pulled off, in the 1977 elections the Congress was defeated by the unlikely coalition of all the major parties. In the elections of 1980, the Congress Government came back with a sweeping victory.
Voting Procedure in India
Procedure in India strictly adheres to the principal of Secret Ballot. Polling in India is normally held on a number of different days in different constituencies, to enable the security forces and those monitoring the election to keep law and order and ensure that voting during the election is fair. The days for the polls are fixed by the election commission and they are well publicized before all elections. Polling stations are usually set up in public institutions, such as, schools and community halls. Each polling station is open for at least 8 hours on the day of election.
On reaching the polling station, entry will be regulated by queues. There are separate queues for men and women voters and the physically handicapped persons. The persons who enforce the queues allow 3-4 voters into the polling station at a time. Physically handicapped voters and women voters with babies in arm are given precedence over the other voters in the queue.
On entering the polling station, one has to go to the First Polling Officer who is in-charge of the marked copy of the electoral roll and responsible for identification of electors. One needs to keep the identity document ready to show to the First Polling Officer. The First Polling Officer will then call out the name and serial number so that the polling agents become aware of the person's presence and the identity is not challenged. Following this, if the person's identity is not challenged, he/she will move to the Second Polling Officer who will mark the left forefinger with the indelible ink. Following this, the person's serial number is recorded by the Officer in the Register of Voters. Once this is recorded, the voter has to sign in the appropriate column in the Register of Voters. If a voter cannot sign, his/her thumb impression will be obtained. The Second Polling Officer will then give a signed voter's slip which will record your serial number in the register of voters and your serial number in the electoral roll.
Process of registration for voting involves a series of neat steps which need to be followed for being a registered voter. The Election Commission of India prepares the electoral rolls through a process of intensive revision where house-to-house enumeration is done and electors residing in each house are registered by official enumerators who go physically from door-to-door to collect the information about electors. This process is done normally once in five years. Between two Intensive revisions, summary revisions are done every year during a specified period when persons who are left out of the electoral rolls are given an opportunity to register themselves by applying in Form-6. It is also expected from the voter that the person will get his/her name deleted from the place where the person was registered earlier, i.e., the earlier place of residence, and get it registered in the new place of residence. For this purpose, it is sufficient that the concerned person files a claim in application form 6 before the Electoral Registration Officer of the new place. In this form, full details of the earlier place of residence must be given. Short absence from place of residence does not debar one to continue his/her name in electoral roll. Similarly, deletions are carried out of electors who have died or who have shifted residence from one area to another outside the prescribed part of the electoral roll. It must be noted here that a person can be registered only at one place. Registration in more than one place is an offence.
During Intensive Revision of electoral rolls which normally takes place once in five years, a draft roll is prepared after house to house enumeration and published at every polling booth location for inviting claims and objections. Any eligible person can file claim in Form No. 6 for inclusion of his/her name in the roll or raise an objection to somebody's name or for deletion of his/her or any other person's name in Form No. 7. Similarly if any particulars in the electoral roll are to be modified such as name, house number, middle name, last name, age, sex, epic number etc. a claim in Form No. 8 can be filed. In case any elector has changed his house from the polling area of one booth to other booth in the same Assembly Constituency he/she can file application in Form No. 8A for change/transposition from one electoral part to the other part.
During Summary revision of electoral rolls which takes place every year, the existing electoral rolls are published at each polling booth location to invite claims and objections for inclusion, deletion, modification and transposition. After due enquiry all the claims and objections are decided and a supplementary electoral roll is prepared and published. Even after the final publication of electoral rolls the process of continuous updation of electoral rolls goes on and the citizens are free to file any application for the addition, deletion, modification and transposition with the Electoral Registration Officer.
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