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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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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