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India and the United States of America are the two largest democracies in the world. The United States has been a democracy since 1789, India on the other hand has been a parliamentary constitutional republic since it attained Independence from colonial rule in 1947.

In a democracy, the people decide who comes into power by voting for candidates in elections. Policies are implemented on a large-scale in a democratic nation. Considering the population size, it can be quite a task to assimilate everyone’s opinion in the mandate and find a middle ground. To ensure that the formation of the government is smooth and caters to the will of the majority of the population, democratic countries periodically hold free and fair elections.

While the core of the elections is similar, there are many differences between how elections are held in the US and India. Very few commonalities exist between the organization of the government in the two countries. Read on to find out how they are both unique and different in their electoral ways.

The Differences Between Political Parties in India and the USA

The main difference between the electoral process in India and the USA is the nature of their party systems. There are two main parties in the USA political scene, namely, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. They stand for very different ideologies, which is the main source of conflict and debate during elections. Although the Libertarian Party, Green Party, and other smaller parties exist, they are considered to be independent entities as they are outliers and are incapable of competing with the two major ones.

India, on the other hand, has multiple parties that operate on the state level and only a few that successfully operate at the national level. The two largest parties in India are the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Similar to the USA, the ideologies of these differ to a huge extent, presenting voters with an option during the elections

It is the regional parties who tend to supply many deserving candidates. Most states have a dominant regional party. The two big national parties have had to form alliances with such parties to retain the majority and the favour of the people. For example, states like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have regional parties with a strong presence, such as AIADMK and Trinamool Congress respectively. Here, INC and BJP cannot claim to have any reach. However, the regional parties rarely have a clear-cut ideology on their manifesto and have dynamic policies which are based on the needs and responses of the people of their state.

Differences in the Voting Systems

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are used for voting in India on the day of polling. It also allows a proxy to vote on your behalf if you are overseas and unable to vote. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has opened up to the possibility of e-ballots for overseas electors, but this method is not too widely used as of now.

The United States, on the other hand, has a flexible voting mechanism with multiple methods being approved to let you cast your vote. For example, a voter can go up to a polling booth and cast a vote, have absentee voting through the mail, as well as early voting. However, scanning and vote counting are pretty much the same in the USA and India.

Differences in the Power of Election Boards

India and the USA have independent and autonomous election bodies which are responsible for hosting the elections. The USA has two federal bodies called the Federal Election Commission and US Election Assistance Commission (EAC). However, these entities don’t have the liberty to exert control as their role is mostly confined to setting up campaign finance regulations.

On the other hand, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has a larger power to yield, wherein it deals with setting up elections, counting votes, setting up financial regulations, enlisting the service of the police of domestic military forces to keep the voting process as transparent and flawless as possible.

Differences in Voter Turnout

India’s voter turnout ranges around 65-66% which is higher as compared to the USA’s 61.4%. It is important to note that the voter pool in the USA mainly consists of people above the age of 65. They vote 25% more than their younger generation does, i.e. the 18-24-year-old population.

Despite the differences between the US & Indian election, both countries have a lot to learn from each other to make their elections more inclusive, successful, and transparent. The United States must design strategies to engage its youth to participate in political matters. India, on the other hand, has to work harder towards the accessibility of voting for all.

Transparency of the Election System

  • The validity of results declared by the Election Commission of India has never been doubted — even candidates losing by just one vote have never questioned the results, though election petitions have been filed on grounds of corrupt practices of the opponent.
  • What has worked well for India is a fully empowered but fiercely independent and neutral election commission. The biggest reason for the success of the Indian system is extreme simplicity. All things considered Indian elections are regarded as a model for a large part of the world.
  • The Indian election system is effective in coverage by setting up the poll in every 2 kms which includes a poll booth for a lone voter in Gujarat’s Gir forest and the world's highest polling booth that is located in Himachal Pradesh, at a height of over 15,000 feet.
  • While India gave equal voting rights to women on Day One in 1950, the US had taken 144 years. And then, while India elected a woman prime minister within 19 years, the US has not had a woman president in 240 years.
  • This along with higher registration, higher turnout and an effective and neutral election management system makes our election process more democratic and in effect the greatest democracy in the world.

End Note

Voting is an important process in a democratic government without which a nation's government would be less likely to be truly representative of its citizens' choices. Citizens must participate in their elections to see their country run the way they want it. While the election systems are effective and strong in both nations, it is the citizens who can influence the final results in electing a deserving candidate.

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