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The right to vote is the strongest tool or medium of raising one’s voice in a democracy. The spirit of democracy is ensured by means of voting by the citizens of the country who participate in shaping the future of the country and thereby their own.

The Constitution of India grants the right to vote to all of its citizens above the age of 18 years and having a sound mind irrespective of their class, caste, religion or their socio-economic status. The right to vote is considered to be among the very fundamental rights of any citizen. The constitution of India thereby provides the citizens with certain privileges that ensure the safety and security of their rights as a voter and thereby curb any misuse of their rights.

In order to be eligible for voting in any of the elections, the person must be above 18 years of age and a citizen of the country. Every citizen that holds a valid Voter ID can vote in any of the following elections

  • National-level elections
  • State-level elections
  • Local government body elections
  • District-level elections

Grounds for Disqualification to Vote

The election Commission while ensuring the safeguarding of the rights of the voters has also laid down certain criteria that disqualify a person from voting in any of the elections even if he/she holds a valid Voter ID.

These grounds of disqualification are mentioned below.

  • If a person is convicted under Section 125, Section 135 and Section 136, such person will be disqualified to vote in any of the elections.
  • Another ground for disqualification is if a person has committed an offence under the Section 171E and Section 171F of the IPC. 
  • Furthermore, if a person is found voting from two or more constituencies such person is disqualified from the electoral list.

Methods of Voting in India

A person eligible to vote in India can vote either through the Polling Booths or through Postal Ballots.

The eligible voters can vote in an election by visiting the allotted polling booth. They will have to find their name in the voter’s list and assist the polling officials in marking their presence so as to avoid any case of misrepresentation or misuse of their Voter ID.

The other available option to vote is by postal ballots. This option is available to only a select category of voters that are not able to visit the polling booth like the police officers on polling duties, armed personnel that are stationed at their respective posts, persons that are kept in preventive detention, etc.

Rights of the Voters’ in India

The voter’s have certain rights that are bestowed on them by the Election Commission of India. These rights are safeguarded by the Constitution of the country and are provided to all the citizens of the country.

Such Voter rights are discussed below.

Right to Know

The voter has the right to know about the candidates contesting the elections. The voters have the right to get the details of the past records of the candidate (criminal records, if any), financial position of the candidate, their election manifesto, etc.

Voting rights of NRIs

The NRIs are those citizens of the country that are not present at their place of residence for reasons of employment or any other reasons but are still eligible to vote in the elections of the country. NRIs were not initially allowed to vote in the elections of the country. However, a subsequent amendment allowed the NRIs to vote for elections in India even if they are not residing in the country for a period of 6 months.

Voting rights of Prisoners

The constitution of India and the guidelines of the Election Commission of India do not permit a person who is imprisoned to vote in the upcoming elections of the country.

NOTA (Right Not to Vote)

NOTA or the Right Not to Vote is another right of the voter where the voter participates in the electoral process but does not vote or choose any of the contesting candidates. This right is exercised when the voter feels that none of the contesting candidates are worthy of his/her vote. In such a case, the voter will choose or vote NOTA (None Of The Above) which indicates that he/she does not wish to cast a vote for any of the candidates that are contesting the election.

Tendered Voting Rights

This right can be exercised by a voter when he/she realizes that another person has wrongly voted on their behalf. Such a person will need to provide a valid identity proof to authenticate their voting right and vote on a separate ballot paper as per Election Commission.

Voting rights of Disabled or Infirm Citizens

This right is to safeguard the voting right of the disabled and infirm citizens to ensure that their voice is also heard in democracy. When a person of disability is not able to cast his/her vote in the polling booth or through postal ballot, the Election Commission will provide assistance to such voters to cast their votes by taking their vote with the help of an Electoral Officer.

FAQs – Voters' Rights in India

1. Can a person below 18 years of age vote in any election?

No. A person below the age of 18 years does not have a right to vote in any elections in India.

2. Can a citizen of the country not have a valid voter’s id vote in any election?

No. A person, although a citizen of India, not having a valid voter’s id and their name in the voter’s list cannot vote in any election in India.

3. Can prisoners vote in upcoming elections?

No. As per the current law, prisoners are not allowed to cast their vote in the upcoming elections.

4. Can NRIs vote in the elections in India?

Yes. NRIs having valid voter's id and their name in the voter's list can cast their vote in any election in India.

5. Does the Election Commission provide any assistance to disabled and infirm citizens to cast their votes?

Yes. The election Commission provides the help of Electoral Officers to such disabled persons and infirm citizens who are unable to cast their votes in the [polling booths or through postal ballots.

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