Elections in India are held under this system. The whole country is divided into constituencies. Voters select a single candidate by marking against the candidate of their choice or through an electronic voting machine. The candidate who secures the highest number of votes is declared elected. (he may have secured even less than half of the total votes polled. Consider a situation in which 1000 votes have been polled.
There are 6 candidates in the contest. They secured 140, 150, 160, 170, 180, and 200 votes respectively. The candidate securing 200 votes stands selected even though he represents only 20% of the voters. This remains a weakness of the system in which first past the post is declared the winner.) The system is easy to operate. There is however heavy wastage of votes cast in favor of losing candidates.
The Constitution prescribes the membership strength of the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies. The Election Commission is responsible for the preparation and revision of electoral rolls (list of voters for each constituency) and the delimitation of constituencies (making of territory for each constituency).
System in operation
The election commission appoints Electoral Registration Officers in consultation with State governments. They are assisted by Assistant Registration Officers. The existing electoral rolls are displayed at select places. Any citizen who feels he is eligible but his/her name does not figure in the list can fill up a form and get his name included in the electoral roll.
Conduct of elections
Whenever the new elections become due, the Election Commission issues a notification to that effect. The various governments in place are hereafter forbidden from doing any act that might further favor their electoral prospects.
The Commission in consultation with the State administration appoints Returning Officers for the various constituencies from where elections are to be held.
Updating of electoral rolls.
Electoral rolls are prepared and updated through the agency of state officials. They are required to do the addition to their own duties. Political parties take an interest in getting voters sympathetic to those enrolled. The rest are left to fend on their own. The initiative does not come from the state authorities or the persons involved in updating the electoral rolls. Issue of voter’s identity card is still in process.
Providing voters photo identity cards is a colossal task but can be a very effective way of checking bogus voting.
Who can contest?
Registered voters above 25 years of age are eligible for being elected as members of the LokSabha or the Legislative Assembly of a state. Candidates desiring to contest elections have to make a security deposit. The deposit is forfeited if the candidate fails to secure at least one-sixth of the total valid votes polled in the constituency. Nominations have to be supported by one registered elector if the candidate is being sponsored by a recognized political party. In the case of an independent candidate, the support must come from at least ten registered voters.