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India is one of the largest democracies in the world. The notion ‘Government of the people, by the people and for the people’ holds true only when the entire nation participates in the election process. In a true form of democracy, all the citizens come together to decide the future of the country and thereby their own. The right to vote gives the citizens of the country the power to exercise their franchise and decide collectively with the majority who they think is responsible enough to hold the highest office of the nation and carry on the responsibilities that come along with it.

However, there has always been a disconnect between the voters and the election process. It has been observed that the many voters do not take the election process seriously and do not understand the gravity of the power to vote and the responsibility that comes along with it. This is especially true in the case of the urban population where the voting day is usually considered as just another holiday since it is not made compulsory or mandatory for every citizen to vote.

The highest ever recorded voter turnout on the Election Day was a mere 66% approximately in the 2014 elections. This is a far cry from the ideal 100% voter turnout which is crucial for any democracy. There have been many cases where voters do not even register to vote or enroll themselves in the voter list thinking their single vote will not matter but are quick to blame the government and give suggestions to improve the conditions. Voting and taking part in the electoral process is more than a right. It’s a responsibility that each citizen holds to select their leaders.

Hence, there has to be a fundamental shift in the thought process of the voters to realize the importance of the voting process as well as the importance of each vote in determining the future of the nation.

Importance of Voting

A voter’s responsibility to vote responsibly is one of the strongest pillars of a democracy. Since voting is not made mandatory by the government, it is the moral duty of the citizens of the country to come forward and carry out this duty voluntarily. Some of the pointers that show the importance of voting in the country are mentioned below.

Source of change

While protests are one of the ways to showcase the displeasure of the citizens towards the government or any of their policies, voting is the single most important tool to register one’s voice. The collective voice or mandate of the citizens of the country can be the loudest cry for change. It has been clearly seen before on many occasions that the citizens of the country are well capable of showing the door to a non-performing government and bringing about the much needed change in the country.

Significance of each and every vote

As mentioned earlier, there are many who think that their vote doesn't matter and therefore do not even register themselves to vote. However, we often forget that the difference of even one vote can be the difference between a good government and a bad one, between a capable and strong head of the state and a weak and indecisive one. Hence, it is stressed over and over again for each and every individual to vote.

NOTA

This is termed by many as a game changer option. There may be such cases where the voter may think that none of the candidates contesting the election are worthy of his/her vote. For such a scenario, the Election Commission of India has introduced the option None Of The Above (NOTA) in the electoral process. It is believed that this option can also lead to a re-election scenario if the majority of voters believe that the candidates are not worthy of a chance to govern. This will result in fresh elections with fresh candidates. Such is the power of the mandate of the people of the country.

Pride in honouring the country

The right to vote is associated with a sense of pride especially with young voters or first time voters. It is seen as such in the latest trends to showcase the fulfillment of their responsibility by sharing the picture of their inked finger on various social media platforms. It is also the noblest way of honouring our forefathers who have made innumerable sacrifices and strived extremely hard to attain freedom for our nation. The Election Commission of India (ECI) also has started various initiatives to promote voter awareness and inculcate the need and importance of voting among the citizens across the country. The results of such initiatives are seen in the increasing voter turnout over the years.

Suggestions to Strengthen the Election Process in the Country

While it is established that the voters have to uphold their responsibility of voting in every election, the electoral process itself can undergo certain changes that can ensure the influx of better representatives of the people or communities in the election as well as optimum fair practices to be followed by everyone involved in the process.

Certain examples of such suggestions are mentioned below.

  • Facilitate inter-migrants to register their votes
  • Curb the use of unfair social practices or use of unethical practices in the election process
  • Keep a check on financing in the elections with respect to each candidate and the political party as a whole
  • Curb the practice of proxy voting especially in case of NRI voters
  • Decriminalizing the elections and keeping a stringent check on the entry of criminals in the political scenario of the country
  • Introduction of electoral Reforms to handle situations like coalitions post elections

FAQs on Elections and Voting in India

Q1. What are the major elections of the country?

There are four major elections of the country namely,

  • The Lok Sabha Elections
  • The Rajya Sabha Elections
  • The election of the Prime Minister by the elected members of the Lok Sabha
  • Election of President by the collection of members of the State and the Central Legislatures

Q2. What is the Voter ID?

Voter ID is a document issued by the Election Commission of India to eligible citizens of the country empowering them to vote in the elections of the country provided their names appear in the voter’s list.

Q3. What are the ways to check a person’s name in the voter’s list?

Some of the easiest ways to check one’s name in the voter list is by sending an SMS, calling the helpline number, downloading the voter helpline app or visiting the website of ECI or by simply visiting the nearest local electoral office.

Q4. What is NOTA?

NOTA is the option available in the electoral process to the voters in case they do not think that any of the candidates contesting the elections are worthy of a vote.

Q5. What is the need for elections?

Elections are the platform to showcase the popular mandate of the people in choosing their own government. It’s one of the fundamental pillars in shaping the future of a democratic nation.

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