Parliamentary election in India: 970 million vote – digitally

As of: April 18, 2024 8:07 p.m

More than 970 million Indians are expected to elect a new parliament in the coming weeks. This means a huge logistical challenge for the organizers – also to prevent election manipulation.

Rajiv Kumar spoke with pride when the head of the Indian Election Commission presented details of the election in India in mid-March – he called it “the largest democracy festival in the world.”

India elects a new parliament, more precisely the lower house, the Lok Sabha with 543 seats. Organizing this election is a mammoth task. More than 970 million people are eligible to vote. It will take more than six weeks for all of them to cast their votes.

The Indian states and union territories vote in different phases. 15 million election workers will be on duty. Voting is not done with paper ballot papers, but rather at machines. Returning officer Rajiv Kumar assures that these are “100 percent safe” and points to “a large number of improvements” that have been made in the last two years.

Short distances to the voting machines

In India, around 20 percent of people are considered illiterate. That’s why the electronic voting machine shows a corresponding symbol next to each party, such as a lotus flower for the ruling party, the BJP or a hand for the Congress party.

All eligible voters should be able to cast their vote within a two-kilometer radius, and that is a challenge in this huge country. A total of 5.5 million voting machines will be set up, including in remote places in the jungle and the Himalayas.

Only those who have registered beforehand are allowed to take part in the election: this time there are 18 million first-time voters. More than 200,000 centenarians are also eligible to vote.

Democracy costs

India’s election is considered the most expensive in the world. According to a non-governmental organization, it will cost more than 14 billion euros. Experts expect an even higher sum.

A company in the city of Mysore in southern India benefits from the major event. She has been working towards the election since the beginning of the year. The company, which specializes in paints, supplies special ink. Because whoever has voted will receive a waterproof purple line on the nail of their index finger.

This is to prevent people from voting twice. The company said that around 2.7 million bottles with a volume of ten milliliters each are produced for this purpose – that’s 80,000 bottles per day.

In the last election five years ago, around two thirds of those eligible to vote voted. Returning officer Kumar hopes voter turnout will be even higher this year. The result of this year’s Indian general election is scheduled to be announced on June 4th.

Charlotte Horn, ARD New Delhi, tagesschau, April 18, 2024 2:46 p.m

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