While there are some who genuinely cast their vote, many people sit back and relax on voting day, and others are cajoled into voting for particular candidates. The importance of voting is lost amongst the hustle and bustle of city life. While everyone sits and complains about this and that, and makes suggestions that the government should change this and that, the elections come and go without half the population paying attention. The highest recorded voter turnout in India was recorded in 2014 for the Lok Sabha elections at 66.4%. That means close to half the population does not exercise their right to vote.
After 69 years of Independence, India has not proved itself to have control and order. The fault lies with both the leaders and the people. People are driven by religious beliefs rather than what is good for the country. We should choose that which drives the country forward, while still upholding the Indian tradition. But politics is wound up in frivolous matters rather than paying more attention to uplifting the poor, helping the aged, education, water, preserving the environment, agriculture, roads, planned urban development, and so on.
Right to Vote is a Constitutional Right.
The Indian Constitution defines who can and who cannot be a voter, a matter that can be decided by Parliament “from time to time.”As it is not a fundamental right, it is not binding on the state to provide the right to vote for every citizen. It can provide the right to only those citizens who are considered eligible voters.
Part XV of the Constitution that deals with Elections, provides in Article 325 for making a single general electoral roll for each constituency of Parliament and State Legislature for which “no person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.”
In the case Union of India v. Association of Democratic Reforms and Another, it was held that right to vote is part of the fundamental right to expression and would, therefore, belong to the category of a fundamental right.
Reasons to vote
It’s our right:
As a democratic country, India is built on the foundations of election. Our Parliament and Legislatures are of the people, by the people and for the people. Voting is a constitutional right that we are privileged to have. We take it for granted, but the constitution has given us the right to elect who we want, and the right to make the change.
Agent of change:
Your vote can play an important part in making the change. If you are unhappy with the current government, you can vote for a better one. Not voting could result in the same party ruling for another five years. At the end of the day, if the country is stuck with a bad government, it’s the people to blame for voting wrong or for not voting at all.
Your vote counts:
Every vote counts. Though it seems like an endless sea of people are there to vote, every vote counts. When the national attitude changes from thinking “my vote doesn’t make a difference”, then the numbers increase and a multitude of people voting will make the difference. The responsibility lies on every individual.
The Government of India has made the provision for voters to exercise their vote even if they are not happy with any of the candidates. NOTA stands for None of the Above and this is an important vote to cast for those who aren’t satisfied by any of the parties standing. Voting NOTA expresses that none of the candidates are good enough. NOTA votes count, however in case the majority of the votes are NOTA, then the party with the next majority will come to power.
Indians struggled to win our freedom and we have the right to vote because of them. Exercising our right to vote upholds what our freedom fighters envisioned for India. We can honor and respect our freedom fighters and the struggle of our past generations by voting for a better India.
How do Elections work
In order to be convinced to vote, you should also know how the elections work. India is a democracy with an asymmetric federal government. Officials are elected from the local levels to state levels and the federal level. We have two houses of Parliament:
• The Lok Sabha - The lower house of the Indian Parliament is also known as the House of the People. Members of the Lok Sabha are elected through general elections. These elections take place every five years. There are two members of the Lok Sabha who will be nominated by the President of India. Currently the Lok Sabha has 545 members. Two members represent the Anglo-Indian community, while the other 543 are elected for five-year terms.
• The Rajya Sabha - The upper house of the Indian Parliament is also known as the Council of States. The members are elected by the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies, and the Electoral college of the Union Territories. Therefore, the members of the Rajya Sabha are indirectly elected by the people. The Rajya Sabha has 245 members out of which 233 members are elected for 6-year terms. One-third of the house retires every two years.
• Prime Minister - The Prime Minister is elected by the elected members of the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha is the lower house of parliament in India.
• President - The President of India is elected for a 5-year term by an electoral college which consists of members of the State Legislatures and Federal Legislatures.
Process of Elections
To conduct the elections and ensure smooth functioning, the Election Commission of India was formed. The Election commission takes care of everything related to elections which includes the superintendence, control and direction of the elections and the conduct of the elections.The following is a summary of the process of voting that you need to know.
• You first need to be registered on the Electoral Roll which is a list of eligible voters. You can apply online as well as at the VRECs, at designated locations or through a Booth Level Officer.
• You will be issued a Voter ID which you need to present at the polling booth.
• The responsibility lies on the citizen to be aware of who is standing for elections.
• It is also the responsibility of the citizen to find out where the polling booth is in their respective constituency.
• You can vote on the Electronic Voting Machines.
• If you speak only English, you should familiarise yourself with the symbols of the candidates, because the names of the candidates will be listed in alphabetical order in the respective state’s language.
• All you have to do is press the blue button next to your desired candidate’s name and symbol. You can also vote NOTA.
• You will receive a mark of ink on your finger that signifies that you voted.
• While it helps identify if you have already voted, it is also a proud symbol you can bear.
In India today, voters are free to vote, free not to vote, vote but reject all candidates, and vote for the first time when they turn 18 years. The right to vote’s unwritteness in the Constitution may be the reason for its effectiveness, which may not be reinforced if it had been a fundamental right. Along with the right not to vote, the vote assumes the true form of a freedom that has a tremendous impact on political power. The diversity of people and problems in India require both the written and unwritten rights, and constitutionalism helps in reconciling with the “the competing interests, resolve conflicts, elect representatives, and implement public decisions in a peaceful, civilized, and orderly manner.”It may be just as Austin states: “Democracy is a messy business: subject to greatness, meanness,
and error. Constitutional government is work in progress; a matter of never ending adjustments. Each generation must cope with it anew.