Lok Sabha Elections: Cost, Voter Registration

17th Lok Sabha elections are scheduled in April and May of 2019. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, India is the world’s largest democracy. While the outcome of the next general election is up in the air, one attribute about it is already well known:  2014 was the most expensive Lok Sabha elections entailing a cost of Rs 3426 crore to the national exchequer, while the cost of 2009 elections was Rs 1483 crore, shown in the image below. For comparison, the combined US presidential and congressional elections in 2016 cost $6.5 billion.  If the 2014 Lok Sabha elections cost an estimated $5 billion, there is little doubt the 2019 election will easily surpass that – making India’s elections the world’s most expensive. What are Lok Sabha Elections? What is Lok Sabha? How are Number of Seats in Lok Sabha Elections decided? What is the cost of Cost of Lok Sabha Elections? How much does a Candidate spend on the Lok Sabha elections? How to apply for Voter Id card? What are Different Types of Voting Systems in the World?

Cost of Lok Sabha Elections over the years
Cost of Lok Sabha Elections

Elections in India

India has three major elections Lok Sabha Elections, Rajya Sabha Elections and State Assembly Elections.

 Election Commission oversees elections in India. The Election Commission of India is an autonomous, constitutionally established federal authority responsible for administering all the electoral processes in India, Parliament of India and the state legislatures and of elections to the office of the President of India and the Vice-President of India.

The 7-minute video discusses the Election Process in India, Types of Election. What is parliament?

What is Lok Sabha?

The Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India,(the upper house being the Rajya Sabha) is made up of Members of Parliament (MPs). Each MP represents a single geographic constituency. Members of the Lok Sabha are elected by adult universal suffrage and a first-past-the-post system to represent their respective constituencies, and they hold their seats for five years or until the body is dissolved by the President on the advice of the council of ministers.

The maximum strength of the House allotted by the Constitution of India is 552. Currently, the house has 545 seats which are

  • elected 543 members
  • 2 members of the Anglo-Indian Community nominated by the President of India.
  • A total of 131 seats (24.03%) are reserved for representatives of Scheduled Castes (84) and Scheduled Tribes (47).

The 16th Lok Sabha was elected in May 2014 and is the latest to date.

What is Voter Id or EPIC card number

To vote in the election you need have a Voter Id or EPIC number. All Indian citizens who are aged 18 years or above are eligible to vote. The qualifying date is 1 January of the year of revision of electoral roll. There are three categories of electors in India:

  • General electors
  • Overseas (NRI) electors
  • Service electors

The EPIC full form is Electoral Photo ID Card (EPIC). The EPIC number is your voter card number. Indian voter ID card is an identity document issued by the Election Commission of India which primarily serves as an identity proof for Indian citizens while casting votes in the country’s municipal, state, and national elections. It was first introduced in 1993 during the tenure of the Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan.

Citizens can register for Voter Id by filling Form-6. There are several ways to file the application.

  • You can file the application online.
  • The application, accompanied by copies of the relevant documents, can be filed in person before the concerned Electoral Registration Officer/Assistant Electoral Registration Officer.
  • It can be sent by post to the Booth Level Officer of the polling area or handed over to her/him.

Number of Seats in Lok Sabha Elections

 Seats in Lok Sabha are divided across the states of the country to ensure two things

  1. Uniformity among states: By providing every state with an equal ratio between Numbers of LokSabha Constituencies and Population.
  2. Uniformity within State: By an equal ratio of Population: Number of seats within State.

The number of seats are therefore based on census and are changing since the first LokSabha elections.  The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census figures under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002. The Constitution of India was specifically amended in 2002 (84th amend) not to have delimitation of constituencies till the first census after 2026. Thus, the present Constituencies carved out on the basis of 2001 census shall continue to be in operation till the first census after 2026.

  • Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency with the largest area of 173266.37 km and 1.59 lakhs Voters.
  • Chandni Chowk (Delhi) is Lok Sabha Constituency with the smallest Area, 10.59 sq. km.
  • Lakshadweep Lok Sabha constituency with the smallest number of electors, 39033.
  • Outer Delhi is Parliamentary Constituency with the largest number of electors – 3368399

The image below shows the number of seats in Lok Sabha Elections

Number of Seats in Lok Sabha Elections
Number of Seats in Lok Sabha Elections

Cost of Lok Sabha Elections

As per the guidelines of the Ministry of Law & Justice issued in October 1979, the entire expenditure on the actual conduct of elections to Lok Sabha is borne by the Government of India.  But, expenditure towards law and order maintenance is taken care of by respective state governments.

The ECI has compiled provisional expenditure figures of the various Lok Sabha elections till data, as a response to RTI

  • The total expenditure was equal to or less than Rs 10 crore for each of the first three general elections.
  • The expenditure was less than Rs 100 crore until the 8th general election in 1984-85.
  • The expenditure crossed Rs 500 crore for the first time during the 11th general election in 1996 
  • it crossed Rs 1000 crore during the 14th general election in 2004. 
  • The expenditure for the last general election in 2014 (Rs 3870 crore) was three times more than the expenditure incurred for the 15th general election in 2009

What all are covered under Election expenditure?

As per the guidelines, the following items are treated as expenditure incurred for the actual conduct of elections.

  • Setting up of the polling stations and making necessary arrangements at polling booths & counting centres
  • Payment of TA/DA etc., to polling personnel and counting staff
  • Making transport arrangements for carrying polling and counting staff to the polling and counting centres and for the movement of election material and ballot boxes
  • Making temporary telephone facilities and electrical fittings, etc. to the polling booths and counting centres
  • Purchase of election material like indelible ink, ammonia paper, etc., which are exclusively utilized for that particular election
  • Miscellaneous expenditure for the purpose of smooth conduct of polling and counting

Expenditure is also incurred on other items which are not treated as ‘expenditure for the actual conduct of elections’. Hence, the expenditure on these items has to be borne equally by the state & central governments. These include things like expenditure on regular election establishment and preparation & revision of electoral rolls.

How much can a Candidate spend in Lok Sabha collection?

Elections are an expensive affair with political parties spending crores of rupees towards campaigning. 

The Election Commission of India imposes limits on the expenditure incurred by a candidate, but not political parties, on their election campaign.

A candidate can spend between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 70 lakh, depending on the state they are contesting the Lok Sabha election from.

  • For all states, except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim, a candidate can spend a maximum of Rs 70 lakh on canvassing.
  • The cap for Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim is Rs 54 lakh.
  • And, it is Rs 70 lakh for Delhi and Rs 54 lakh for other Union territories.

For the assembly elections, the ceiling is between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 28 lakh.

All registered political parties have to submit a statement of their election expenditure to the election commission within 90 days of the completion of the Lok Sabha elections.

Candidates have to keep a separate account and file the election expenses with the poll watchdog under the law.  All candidates are required to submit their expenditure statement to the poll panel within 30 days of the completion of the elections. An incorrect account or expenditure beyond the cap can lead to disqualification for up to three years under Section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

How much did Parties spend in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections?

From Hindustan Times article Cost of an election: Who can spend what and how much

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) analysed the difference in the declarations made by political parties and their MPs on the amount granted and received as part of election expenditure during the Lok Sabha election in 2014.

According to ADR, of the total of 543 MPs, complete information was available for 539 lawmakers. Out of the remaining four MPs, three were Independent candidates and one MP, Gopinathrao Munde of the BJP died and his expenditure statement was not available on the commission’s website.

Out of the 342 MPs from national parties, 263 MPs said they received Rs 7,559.82 lakh from their parties whereas the national parties said that Rs 5,523.53 lakh was given to only 175 MPs.

Of the regional parties, 38 MPs from 15 different parties either declared they received nothing or mentioned various amounts as received from their respective parties which do not match with the expenditure statements submitted by the parties.

BJP’s lawmaker Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah had declared that she had received no lump-sum amount from her party whereas the Bharatiya Janata Party had declared that Rs 15 lakh was given to her for the Lok Sabha election.

On the other hand, 89 MPs declared the got Rs 17.43 crore, including 71 MPs from the BJP, 11 from the Congress, five from CPI(M) and one each from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and CPI. But their names were missing from the list of candidates to whom the lump-sum amount was given by their parties.

How to apply for Voter Id online?

  • Go to the National Voters’ Service Portal — www.nvsp.in
  • Click on ‘Apply Online For Registration Of New Voter’
  • A new window with Form-6 will open
  • Fill up the form and click on ‘submit’

Documents required with Form 6:

  • One recent passport-sized coloured photograph
  • Identify or ID proof, residence proof, Proof of age.

What next after submitting the Form-6?

  • After receiving Form-6, the Electoral Registration Officer will display a copy of the form on his notice board inviting objections, if any, within a period of one week.
  • The Electoral Registration Officer may also ask the concerned Booth Level Officer to visit the applicant’s residence and verify the information provided in the form.
  • The Electoral Registration Officer will order the inclusion of name in the electoral roll if Form-6 is complete in all aspects and no person has raised any objection.

You will receive a receipt on submitting your form, A reference Id; keep it handy as you might need it to trace your application!

You can track the application on National Voters’ Service Portal — www.nvsp.in

This 6-minute Video explains how to apply for your voter ID. Links to all forms is at  https://www.nvsp.in

Different Types of Voting Systems in the World

How could Modi win with 31% votes? How could Donald Trump win elections with 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton? This is because of the way voting systems are designed. Different countries have different ways of voting.  There are a large number of variations in electoral systems, but the most common systems are given below. Wikipedia article Electoral system covers it in detail.

First Past the Post Voting: are one in which voters indicate on a ballot the candidate of their choice and the candidate who receives the most votes wins. This is sometimes described as the winner takes all. First-past-the-post voting is a plurality voting method.  The candidate need not get a majority (50%+) of the vote to win; so long as he has a larger number of votes than all other candidates, he is declared the winner. Examples: Elections in India, Canada, for the House of Commons in  United Kindon, for the House and Senate in the United States use the plurality system.

Two round Voting: Also called “second ballot” systems, majority electoral systems attempt to provide for a greater degree of representativeness by requiring that candidates achieve a majority of votes in order to win. “Majority” is normally defined as 50%-plus-one-vote. If no candidate gets a majority of votes, then the second round of voting is held (often a week or so after the initial ballot). In the second round of voting, only a select number of candidates from the first round are allowed to participate. Presidential elections in Austria, Finland, Portugal, Russia and other east European states, as well as presidential and National Assembly elections in France, make use of various forms of majority electoral systems. 

Proportional Representation: Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. If n% of the electorate support a particular political party, then roughly n% of seats will be won by that party. The essence of such systems is that all votes contribute to the result – not just a plurality, or a bare majority. The most widely used families of PR electoral systems are party list PR, the single transferable vote (STV), and mixed member proportional representation (MMP)

The image below shows the different Voting systems in the World and the Video below explains the different voting systems

Different Voting Systems in the World
Different Voting Systems in the World


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