2018 Assembly Elections

All Your Questions Answered

2018 Assembly Elections All Your Questions Answered

What is model code of conduct? When does the model code of conduct come into effect?

The model code of conduct is a set of guidelines that candidates, and political parties and governments must follow to keep elections fair. These generally include restrictions on government announcements and freebies that can influence voters.

The model code of conduct comes into effect as soon as the Election Commission announces poll dates.

What are EVMs? What are VVPATs?

An EVM or Electronic Voting Machine is an electronic device for recording votes. It consists of two units - a control unit and a balloting unit.

Since 2010, the Election Commission has been phasing in a third unit called the VVPAT or the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail, which allows voters to verify that their votes have been recorded correctly by printing a paper receipt. This system will be used with all voting machines in the upcoming assembly and general elections.

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Can we trust EVMs?

The Election Commission says EVMs are tamper-proof and accurate.

Questions have been raised over EVMs in the past few years, mostly from parties that have lost the polls (the same parties have often swallowed the questions when they won elections).
 
To set questions and doubts at rest, the Election Commission organised a "hackathon" last year, but the allegations of voting machines being manipulated persist.

But given the sheer scale of Indian elections and the size of the electorate, EVMs are unlikely to be discarded. Experts say they are certainly much less "hackable" than ballot boxes which have been known to be stolen, switched or destroyed.

When did Election Commission switch from paper ballot? How long would counting take then?

EVMs were first used in 1982 in 50 polling stations in a by-election to Kerala's Parur assembly seat. The first large scale use of EVMs was in 1998 when it was used in 16 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi. The 2004 Lok Sabha election was the first parliamentary poll conducted entirely on EVMs.

EVMs sped up the process of vote-counting by more than 10 times in some cases. While the counting of ballot papers took between 30 to 40 hours in each assembly constituency, these days results or trends emerge within two to three hours.

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What is NOTA and when was it introduced? Which state has had the highest number of NOTA votes?

NOTA or "None Of The Above" is a voting option on EVMs that allows voters to reject every candidate in their constituency. It was introduced In October 2013 following a Supreme Court order.

In last year's election, Gujarat registered the second highest NOTA votes at 1.8% while Bihar tops the list with 2.48% votes.

What would happen if number of NOTA votes were higher than the votes for main parties contesting?

According to the Election Commission, even if the number of voters choosing NOTA is higher than the number of votes polled by any of the candidates, the candidate who has the largest number of votes has to be declared elected.

What if I can't find my name in the electoral rolls, who do I go to for help?

You can contact the nearest Election Commission office or visit the National Voters' Services Portal at www.nvsp.in.

What if I don't have an election card? How do I register? Can I register online?

Even if you don't have an election ID card, you can still vote with most government-issued photo identity documents. These include:

• Passport

• Driving license

• Service identity cards with photograph issued to employees by central or state government-run companies

• Passbooks with photograph issued by a bank or post office

• PAN card

• Smart card issued by the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the National Population Register

• MNREGA job card

• Health insurance smart card issued under a Ministry of Labour scheme

• Pension document with photograph

• Authenticated photo voter slip issued by the election machinery

• Official identity cards issued to lawmakers or legislators

• Aadhaar card

If don't have these, you can register both offline and online for a voter ID card.

To register offline, you have to visit the state election office and request a Form 6. After filling in the necessary details and providing all relevant documents, you can submit the form to be issued the election ID at a later date.

You can also register online by visiting the National Voters' Services Portal at www.nvsp.in.

Can current MLAs contest Lok Sabha seats? Can they hold both positions?

Yes, a legislator can contest parliamentary elections in India. However, according to the Prohibition of Simultaneous Membership Rules, 1950, they will have to resign from the state legislature within 14 days of the Lok Sabha election results being declared. Therefore, they cannot hold both the positions.

Can I use my Aadhaar card to vote?

Yes. As long as you have your name in the voters' list, you can walk in to a polling booth and cast your vote with an Aadhaar card as ID proof.

Do NRIs have any voting rights?

Yes, as long as they have not acquired citizenship of any other country and are otherwise eligible to be registered as a voter at their place of residence in India.

Can I vote using postal ballot?

Only if you work for the military, the government or are on election duty and are posted outside your state; or you have been taken into custody as "preventive detention".

What are bellwether seats?

Bellwether seats are those that have historically voted for the winner. The sentiment in the run up to the polls and early trends on counting day in these seats often act as some of the surest indications of what the outcome will be.