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Well, the show is over, results declared the day before…the 2019 General Elections in India. Without a hitch, barring some very sporadic incidents and the usual whining of a few losers.

No consultants from the Big 5 or premier management schools, no Rs.50-lakhs-an-year-Project-Managers called in!!!

The show rolled out entirely by a dedicated team in the Election Commission (EC) Office assisted by a large number of government personnel doubling for poll duty, all paid government salaries!!

An expertise they should be offering in the international market to countries, states…wanting to hold free and fair elections.

You’ll know why when you look at some facts and figures to get flavor of this mind-boggling operation:

Everything about Indian general elections is colossal – the Economist magazine once compared it to a “lumbering elephant embarking on an epic trek”. The largest the world has seen. The number of voters is bigger than the population of Europe and Australia combined.

Voter Stats: 900 million registered voters, 10% more than in 2014 polls. 432 million eligible voters are women. 84.3 million first-time voters.

About 15 million voters between 18 and 19 years of age are expected supposed to be casting their votes in this election.

In the last Indian election in 2014, there were more than 830 million registered voters. Of them about 553 million or 66 per cent of the eligible voters came out to vote, up from 45% in 1951 when the first election was held.

A voter can now carry any of the 12 approved identity cards to the polling station and not just the voter slip.

Candidates: Fight is for 543 of 545 seats in Lower House of Parliament, Lok Sabha. In the last election there were 8,251 candidates including 668 women, from 464 political parties, nearly a seven-fold increase from the first election. On an average 15 candidates per seat, the maximum being 42.

For the first time, the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and postal ballot papers would carry the photographs of all the candidates along with their party names and symbols.

In a first, candidates with criminal antecedents have to advertise their criminal records in newspapers and through television channels. Earlier they were required to give details of their criminal cases to the poll panel through an affidavit but it was not mandatory to make it public.

Polling Stations: 1 million polling stations set up, 10% more than last time. EC guidelines say no voter should be more than 2 km away from a polling station.

Around 1.8 million electronic voting machines (EVM) were used to cast votes in the last election. More than 80,000 polling stations lack mobile connectivity; nearly 20,000 are in forest or semi-forest areas. In the 2009 general election, the EC set up a polling station in the Gir forest of Gujarat, home to Asiatic lions, just for one voter.

At 15,526 ft Tashigang in Himachal Pradesh is the highest polling station in the world.  
Reportedly a group of election personnel will hike for an entire day to reach a lone voter in Arunachal Pradesh this time.
For the first time, 12 big-sized EVMs will be used at every polling booth, in the Nizamabad district of Telangana, as a whopping 185 candidates compete. Earlier it was thought that the EC will have to use ballot papers here.

For the first time, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be used in all EVMs across the country. VVPAT allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. When a vote is cast, a slip is printed on the VVPAT printer containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate voted. This remains visible to you through a transparent window for seven seconds. Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls into a sealed drop box.

Voting Schedule: Voting will take place in seven phases spaced out over six weeks (39 days) from April 11-May 19.  The voting in multiple phases is to allow officials and security forces to re-deploy. India’s historic first election in 1951-52 took three months to complete. Between 1962 and 1989, elections were completed in four to 10 days. The four-day elections in 1980 were the country’s shortest ever.

Counting of votes for all 543 constituencies is done in a single day!

EC: Election Commission of India, an autonomous constitutional body, is overseeing the polls with 300 full-time officials at Delhi HQ.

Over 11 million government officials will travel by foot, road, special train, helicopter, boat, and sometimes elephant, to hold the election.

The 2014 election cost approximately 38.7 billion Indian rupees ($552 million), according to Election Commission estimates.

All in all, an incredible feat, you agree?

Special kudos to these unsung heroes for pulling off this greatest show on earth!

End

Sources: scoopwhoop.com/news/interesting-facts-about-lok-sabha-elections-2019/, Hindustan Times, Twitter, India TV, Reddit, DNA India, NDTV, Business Standard, The Hindu, Inkhabar.  Livemint, bbc.com/news/correspondents/soutikbiswas and dawn.com/news/1475146

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