India, being the largest democracy in the world, conducts federal elections every five years, open to most citizens aged 18 or older. Voting in India is generally optional, although there have been discussions about making voting compulsory.
To vote in India, the primary requirement is to be a citizen of India. However, certain disqualifications can prevent a resident of India from voting. These include being declared of unsound mind by a competent court or being disqualified due to corrupt practices or convictions of elections-related offenses1.
India Voting Criteria
To vote in India, both residents and non-resident Indians (NRIs) must meet certain criteria:
- You must be a citizen of India, and at least 18 years old on the qualifying date, which is defined as the first of January on the year in question.
- Your right to vote is not affected by your caste, creed, religion, or gender.
- Individuals can be disqualified from voting if they have been declared of unsound mind by a competent court or if they have been convicted of elections-related offenses.
What to do as an Indian wishing to vote?
If you meet these criteria and wish to vote, you need to submit a Form-6 to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) of the Assembly Constituency. This can be done online, by post, or directly at the Voters Registration Centre of your constituency. Along with the application, you will need to upload a passport-size color photo and provide proof of residence and age. If you can’t upload the documents, a Booth Level Officer (BLO) can collect them from your house.
Voting in India as a Citizen living abroad
Citizens residing outside of India must submit a Form 6A to the Electoral Registration Officer of the constituency where they normally live in India. This location must match the one cited on their passport. The form, along with a passport-sized photo and a photocopy of relevant pages of the passport containing a valid visa, can be submitted online through the Election Commission of India website.
What do you need to do on voting day in India?
On voting day, you can find your polling station by visiting the Election Commission of India website. It’s advisable to vote in the afternoon to avoid the morning crowd. At the voting center, you’ll need to sign in and confirm your registration. When it’s your turn to vote, you’ll be asked to state your name and your father’s name, and your nail will be marked with indelible ink as a security measure to ensure that each individual votes only once.
How to Track Your Voter ID Application Status
After applying for a voter ID, you can track the status of your application through various methods:
- Online: Visit the National Voter Service Portal (NVSP) and click on the ‘Application status’ link. Enter the reference ID and click on ‘Track Application status’. The status of your application will appear on the screen. If the status of your application is under processing, then it can be tracked again.
- Via Call: Dial the toll-free number 1950 and follow the instructions to know the status of your application.
- Via SMS: The Election Commission of India (ECI) might send an SMS alert to the registered number after successful registration for a voter ID card, notifying about the acceptance or rejection of the voter ID application request. However, this facility is available only in a few states.
Please note that if you are a first-time voter or your name was not listed in the usual poll booth, then first check for your name on the voter list. If your name is present, then you can track your voter ID application status. And if it is not there, first you need to apply for a new voter ID in India. A Booth Level Officer (BLO) is appointed for field verification after an application is received. The application is then accepted or rejected as per the merits of the case.
Additional Information about Voting in India
Electronic Voting Machines (EVM)
India has been using Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in elections since the 2000s. An EVM consists of two units: a control unit and a balloting unit. The control unit is kept with the Presiding Officer or Polling Officer, while the balloting unit is kept within the voting compartment for voters to cast their votes. The EVMs are also designed to operate on a battery, making them portable and perfect for remote areas of India. This also reduces the overall cost of elections.
Once you are inside the voting room, you will find a machine in the corner with an enclosure around it. This machine is known as an EVM (Electronic Voting Machine). This machine has a list of names and symbols of the contesting candidates, and you can press the button against the name of the candidate you wish to vote for. Once you press the button, a beep sound will confirm that your vote has been cast. After voting, quietly exit the polling booth.
Right to Reject
In India, voters have the right to reject all the candidates if they feel that none of them are capable. This can be done by pressing the ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) button on the EVM.
The act of voting is a fundamental right for all eligible citizens in India, and it’s important to exercise that right in order to contribute to the country’s democratic process.