Election Commission of India

The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India at national, state and district level. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, state Legislative Assemblies, state legislative Councils, and the offices of the President and Vice President of the country.[2][3] The Election Commission operates under the authority of Constitution per Article 324,[4] and subsequently enacted Representation of the People Act.[5] The commission has the powers under the Constitution, to act in an appropriate manner when the enacted laws make insufficient provisions to deal with a given situation in the conduct of an election. Being a constitutional authority, Election Commission is amongst the few institutions which function with both autonomy and freedom, along with the country’s higher judiciary, the Union Public Service Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

Election Commission of India
The official logo Election Commission
Commission overview
Formed25 January 1950 (Later celebrated as National Voters Day)
Jurisdiction India
HeadquartersNirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi[1]
28.623902°N 77.21140000000003°E / 28.623902; 77.21140000000003
EmployeesAround 300[2]
Commission executives
WebsiteOfficial Website
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The current commission was established in 1950 when it had a Chief Election Commissioner appointed. Membership increased on 16 October 1989 to three with the increase of two Commissioners were appointed to the commission. That commission ceased on 1 January 1990 when The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1989 superseded the earlier the commission; it continues in operation.. Decisions by the commission are by at least a majority vote.[2] The Chief Election Commissioner and the two Election Commissioners who are usually retired IAS officers draw salaries and allowances as per with those of the Judges of the Supreme Court of India as per the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Conditions of Service) Rules, 1992.[6]

The commission secretariat is based in New Delhi[2] which includes the Election Commissioners, Deputy Election Commissioners (usually IAS officers) Directors General, Principal Secretaries, Secretaries and Under Secretaries.[2][7]

Administration is generally by state with the Chief Electoral Officer of the State, who is an IAS officer of Principal Secretary rank. At the district and constituency levels, the District Magistrates (in their capacity as District Election Officers), Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers perform election work.[2][7]

Removal from office

The Chief Election Commissioner of India can be removed from office as can be a judge of the Supreme Court of India: a two-thirds majority resolution passed by the Parliament of India (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) outlining the grounds of misbehavior or incapacity. Other Election Commissioners can be removed by the President of India on the advice of the Chief Election Commissioner. A Chief Election Commissioner has yet to be impeached. In 2009, just before the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections, Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami sent a recommendation to President Prathibha Patil to remove Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, who was soon to take office as the chief election commissioner and to subsequently supervise the Lok Sabha Election, a potential conflict of interest considering his partisan political party behavior.[8] The President rejected advisory recommendation.[9] Subsequently, after Gopalswami's retirement the next month, Chawla became the chief election commissioner and supervised the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections.[10]


The fundamental pursuit of democracy is elections at regular intervals. Holding periodic, free and fair elections are essentials of a democratic system and a part fundamental aspect of the Constitution. The Election Commission is regarded as India's guardian of elections. Starting with the 1971 5th Lok Sabha elections, the commission has issued for each election an advisory Model Code of Conduct guidelines to be adhered to by political parties and candidates although there is no constitutional statutory power or obligation to do so.[11][12][13][14][15] Instances of violation of the code by various political parties with complaints being received for misuse of official machinery by the candidates has happened.[11][12] The code does not have any specific statutory basis but only a persuasive effect.[11][12] It contains the rules of electoral morality.[11][12]

In 1989, political parties were required to register with the commission.[16] Avoiding confusion is the objective of the registration with the commission.

The commission has the power to designate political party insignia and is prohibited from allowing the same insignia by two different parties regardless of differing locations. It set limits on poll expenses. The commission is responsible for maintenance of the electoral rolls and establishing the schedules of elections.[17]

The commission is empowered with prohibiting dissemination or publication of voting trends that seek to influence voters by opinion polls or exit polls.[18][19][20]

To curb the growing influence of money during elections, the Election Commission has made many suggestions and changes in this regard. The commission has appointed IRS officers of the Income Tax Department as Election Observers (Expenditure) of all elections and has fixed the legal limits on the amount of money which a candidate can spend during election campaigns.[21][22] These limits have been revised over time. The Election Commission, by appointing expenditure observers from the Indian Revenue Service, keeps an eye on the individual account of election expenditure. The commission takes details of the candidate's assets on affidavit at the time of submitting nomination paper, who are also required to give details of their expenditure within 30 days of the declaration of results. The campaign period has also been reduced by the commission from 21 to 14 days for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections to cut down election expenditure.[23]

In an attempt to decriminalise politics, the Election Commission has approached the Supreme Court to put a lifetime ban on convicted politicians from contesting elections.[24][25]

Election website

The Election Commission launched a web site of its own on 28 February 1998 in order to provide accurate information, management, administration and instant results of the elections. In an effort to prevent electoral fraud, in 1993, EPICs or Electors Photo Identity Cards were issued, which became mandatory by the 2004 elections. However ration cards have been allowed for election purposes in certain situations.[26]

In 1998, the commission decided on a programme for the 'computerisation' of the electoral rolls. The introduction of Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) in eight Lok Sabha constituencies in 2014 Indian General Elections was a big achievement for the Election Commission.[27] This Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system was first used with EVMs in a by-poll in September 2013 in Noksen (Assembly Constituency) in Nagaland.[28] and eventually in all elections from September 2013 onwards in various Legislative elections in the country.

In 2014, none of the above or NOTA was also added as an option on the voting machines which is now a mandatory option to be provided in any election.[29][30] The specific symbol for NOTA, a ballot paper with a black cross across it, was introduced on 18 September 2015. The symbol has been designed by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.[31][32] With the 2015 Bihar Legislative Assembly election, the state became the first to have photo electoral rolls, with photographs of the candidates on the EVMs.[33][34]


Voting in India is done using Electronic voting machines or EVMs,[35] there is also a provision for the * Postal voting in India,[36][37] as well as the sepcial arrangements for the disabled voters.[38][39]

Electronic voting machines

The Election Commission had tried to bring improvements in election procedures by the introduction of EVMs. It was thought that these would reduce malpractices and improve efficiency. It was first tried out on an experimental basis in the state of Kerala for the 1982 Legislative Assembly Elections. After a successful testing and the legal inquiries, the commission took the decision to begin the use of these voting machines.[35] Election Commission organised an open hackathon on 3 June 2017, to attempt hacking of Electronic Voting Machine used by the commission in various Indian elections.[40][41] The NCP and CPI(M) were the only two parties that registered for the event but none of them participated.[42] Functioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines were demonstrated to the teams.[41][42]

Postal voting

Postal voting in India is done only through the "Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot Papers (ETPB)" system of Election Commission of India, ballot papers are distributed to the registered eligible voters who return the votes by post. Postal votes are counted first before the counting of votes from the EVM. Only certain categories of people are eligible to register as postal voters. Employees working in the union armed forces and state police as well as their wives, and those working for the Government of India who are officially posted abroad can register for the postal vote, these are also called the "Service voters". People in preventive detention can use postal vote. Prisoners can not vote at all.[36][37]

Electors with disabilities

The Election Commission of India came under severe criticism when an RTI application filed by activist Dr Satendra Singh revealed the commission's ill-preparedness to safeguard electors with disabilities in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.[38] There were many violations of the Supreme Court order from 2014 to enfranchise persons with disabilities.[39]

See also


  1. "Contact Us". Election Commission of India. Archived from the original on 26 December 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  2. "About ECI". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  3. "The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952 (Act No. 31 of 1952)" (PDF). Election Commission of India. 14 March 1952. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  4. "Part XV of the Constitution of India - Elections - Article 324" (PDF). Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  5. "The Representation of the People Act, 1951" (PDF). Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  6. "The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991 (Act No. 11 of 1991)" (PDF). Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. 25 January 1991. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  7. Laxmikanth, M (2017). Indian Polity. McGraw Hill. p. 42.5. ISBN 9789352603633.
  8. Ram, N. (31 January 2009). "Chief Election Commissioner Gopalaswami 'recommends' removal of Navin Chawla". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  9. "President rejects Gopalaswami's report against Navin Chawla". The Hindu. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  10. "A job well done". The Hindu. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  11. Chhibber, Maneesh (5 November 2015). "Model Code is only moral code, but carries weight". The Indian Express. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  12. Joyita (14 April 2014). "Model Code of Conduct and the 2014 General Elections". PRS Legislative Research. Retrieved 9 September 2017.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  13. Iqbal, Aadil Ikram Zaki (4 January 2017). "UP poll dates announced, results on March 11". India. Essel Group. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  14. "Election Commission enforces model code of conduct in Manipur". Hindustan Times. 5 January 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  15. Sharma, Test (10 October 2007). "Gujarat, Himachal get dates for Assembly polls". News18. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  16. "Registration of political parties under section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951" (PDF). Election Commission of India. 23 March 1992. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  17. "Handbook of Symbols, 2004" (PDF). Election Commission of India. 2004. Clause 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  18. "Subject - Guidelines for Publication and Dissemination of Results of Opinion Polls/Exit Polls". Election Commission of India. 20 January 1998. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  19. "Election Commission bans exit polls in election-bound states". The Times of India. 29 January 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  20. Chopra, Ritika (16 February 2017). "Exit polls and why they are restricted by the panel: All your questions answered". The Indian Express. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  21. Kumar, Pradeep (23 March 2017). "RK Nagar byelection: Observers appointed". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  22. "Deployment of observers in RK Nagar a new national record: Election Commission". The New Indian Express. 31 March 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  23. "The Function (Electoral System)". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  24. Anand, Utkarsh (21 March 2017). "Election Commission supports lifetime ban on convicts from contesting". The Indian Express. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  25. Rautray, Samanwaya (15 September 2016). "Lifetime ban on convicted netas: Supreme Court seeks Center, Election Commission's views". The Economic Times. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  26. "When using ration card as identity proof, entire family should vote". The Indian Express. 8 October 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  27. "India devises flawless ballot mechanism". The News International. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  28. Singh, Bikash (4 September 2013). "VVPAT used or the first time in Noksen bypolls". The Economic Times. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  29. Joshua, Anita (13 October 2013). "Election Commission okays NOTA option". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  30. "NOTA to be provided in general elections". The Times of India. 5 March 2014. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  31. "Now, 'NOTA' has an electoral symbol too". Daily News and Analysis. 18 September 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  32. Jain, Bharti (18 September 2015). "'None of the Above' option on EVMS to carry its own symbol from Bihar polls". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  33. Shivadekar, Sanjeev (30 March 2015). "Now, photos of candidates on EVMs to weed out 'dummies'". Times of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  34. Virk, Aviral (21 September 2015). "Contesting the Bihar Polls? Dummy Candidates Beware". The Quint. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  35. "A Constitutional Body". Election Commission of India.
  36. Postal ballots: Who can vote through ETPB, how to get registered and how the voting is done; an explainer, First Post, 2 April 2019.
  37. Maharashtra, Haryana Elections 2019: Can You Vote By Postal Ballot If You Aren't Living At Home?, HUffington Post, 26 September 2019.
  38. Gohain, Manash Pratim (27 January 2014). "Polls near, but no data of voters with disabilities". Times of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  39. "विकलांगों के लिए गंभीर नहीं चुनाव आयोग" [Election Commission not serious about persons with disablities]. Punjab Kesari (in Hindi). 26 January 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  40. "AAP calls EC's EVM challenge 'farce', begins registration for its hackathon". The Economic Times. 3 June 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  41. Prabhu, Sunil (3 June 2017). Tikku, Aloke (ed.). "The EVM (Vote Machine) 'Hackathons' That Weren't: 10 Points". NDTV. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  42. "EVM 'hackathon' challenge: NCP, CPM didn't participate, but understood the process, says EC". Firstpost. 3 June 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
Links to Chief Electoral Officers of states and union territories

29 States of India

7 union territories of India

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