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What is Election? Why do we need Elections?

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  • Last Updated : 31 Mar, 2022
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A formal collective decision-making process in which a populace chooses one or more people to serve in public office is known as an election. Elections have been the fundamental way by which contemporary representative democracy has functioned since the 17th century. Elections may be held to fill positions in the legislature, executive, and judiciary, as well as positions in regional and municipal administration. 

In modern representative democracies, elections are universally used as a tool for selecting representatives, in contrast to ancient Athens, where elections were regarded as an oligarchic institution and most political offices were filled through sortition, also known as allotment, in which officeholders were chosen by lot. Election reform is the process of putting in place or improving the fairness and efficacy of current electoral systems where they do not exist. Psephology is the study of election results and other statistics (especially with a view to predicting future results). Election refers to the act of electing or being elected. 

  • Every democracy holds elections on a regular basis.
  • Elections are held in over 100 nations throughout the world to elect representatives of the populace.
  • Election is a system in which voters elect their representatives at regular intervals and can switch them out whenever they want.
  • Elections are a method of electing representatives to various government posts through the use of ballots.
  • Elections, in which the adult population of a country elects the people’s representatives, are the bedrock of democracy.

In India, there are three layers of government: the central government, the state government, and the local government. Elections to elect Members of Parliament, known as Lok Sabha elections, are held at the national level. The country is divided into 543 constituencies for the Lok Sabha election, with each constituency electing one Member of Parliament (MP). Assembly elections are held at the state level; however, unlike the federal level, each state is organized into a distinct number of Assembly constituencies. The Member of Legislative Assembly is the elected representative in the assembly election (MLA). Similarly, elections are held for the positions of Pradhan in Panchayat (rural) regions and counselors in Municipal (urban) areas at the local level. Each village or town is divided into a number of wards (equivalent to constituencies), each of which elects one village or urban local body member. 

Need for Election

Representatives must be elected through elections. People rule in most democracies through their representatives. Elections solve the issue of evaluating people based on their education, knowledge, or experience. Elections aid in determining whether or not the people like their leaders. Elections ensure that representatives rule in accordance with the wishes of the people and that those who are not working for the people are not re-elected. 

Elections are necessary for democracy because they allow people to feel free and choose their government. Free and fair elections are critical because they are directly tied to people’s desire to vote and pick the representative they believe would be best suited to manage the county’s affairs. Important government choices will be shaped by the people’s choice of representatives. They also elect the political party that will oversee the government and the law. Every neighborhood and country has a pressing need for elections. If people are unhappy with a present government’s rule, they can replace it with a candidate who has strong laws and is capable of ruling. People then vote in accordance with their preferences. Representatives who are elected to rule should use their position to suit the needs and interests of residents. Elections at regular intervals are crucial because they show whether the present government will stay in power or change. 

An election is important for the following reasons:-

  • Elections are the most effective indirect democracy method because they encourage people to vote for representatives who will then pass laws on their behalf.
  • People will vote for those who will have an impact on the administration and make important decisions. 
  • They will vote for the political party whose policies will guide governance and legislative formation.
  • Elections ensure that power passes smoothly from one form of government to the next. People can always propose another party to form government if they are displeased with the current administration, its policies, or the way it is run. 
  • Elections ensure that no government is elected for an infinite period of time, resulting in tyranny.
  • Elections empower citizens to participate in the affairs of their country while remaining politically active and aware.
  • It compel politicians to behave in the best interests of the people. 

In an election, voters have various options, including as-

  • They have a say in who writes the laws that affect them.
  • They have the ability to choose who forms the government and makes major decisions. 
  • They have the option of selecting the political party whose policies will influence the government and legislative process.

Elections in India vs. Elections in the United States 

Two of the world’s largest democracies are India and the United States. While the subcontinental system is just about 70 years old, the one used in the United States has been in use for about 240 years. These systems imply that inhabitants of the various countries have a significant voice in who comes to power and how policies are implemented. However, the electoral processes in place in these two democracies are one of their most significant features. 

  1. Political parties include: If you’ve been paying attention to the recent US elections, you’ll know that the country’s two most powerful parties, both in terms of reach and popularity, are Republicans and Democrats. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are these parties, each of which are based on a distinct philosophy. Although other parties exist, such as the Libertarian Party and the Green Party, they are often seen as outliers and are referred to as separate entities. However, in the Indian system, there aren’t many parties that are well-known across the country.While the Congress Party is by far the most popular, the Bharatiya Janata Party is a close second in terms of popularity. Apart from these two, India has a plethora of regional parties, many of which differ from one state to the next. In Tamil Nadu, for example, both the BJP and the Congress have no sway because the state is governed by regional parties like as the AIADMK and the DMK, among others. Most of these parties, on the other hand, do not subscribe to a certain philosophy and instead formulate policies depending on public opinion, needs, and demands. 
  2. System of voting: Both countries have a strong voting system, but the US system is far more flexible and advanced than India’s.
    For example, in the United States, there are numerous ways to vote, including voting in person at polling stations on election day, voting absentee by mail, and voting early. In India, however, the only way to vote is to provide a valid voter ID, select a candidate on an Electronic Voting Machine, and get inked.
    Furthermore, in both countries, the scanning and counting of votes is done in a similar manner. 
  3. Election commissions: Both India and the United States have autonomous election boards that are in charge of hosting elections. The Federal Election Commission and the US Election Assistance Commission are two federal bodies in the United States (EAC).However, because their mission is primarily limited to establishing campaign financing legislation, these institutions do not have the authority to exert control. The Election Commission of India (ECI), on the other hand, has more power to yield, as it is responsible for organizing elections, counting votes, establishing financial regulations, and enlisting the assistance of police and domestic military forces to ensure that the voting process is as incident-free as possible. 
  4. Turnout in the polls: When compared to the United States, India has a substantially higher voter turnout. For example, below are the results of the most recent national elections in both countries. In the recently finished elections, only 61.8 percent of eligible voters in the United States voted, compared to 66.8 percent in India. In addition, the voting demography in the United States is predominantly elderly persons over the age of 65, who vote 25% more than the 18-24 age group. Based on this data, we can reasonably infer that India and the United States have a lot to learn from one another. For example, the United States needs to do a better job of engaging its youth, while India needs to make voting more accessible to its citizens. 

Sample Questions

Question 1: What distinguishes a democratic election?


An election is democratic if the following conditions are met :

  • Elections must be held every five years on a regular basis.
  • Each eligible voter is entitled to one vote of equal value.
  • There should be more than one political party to provide voters a meaningful choice.
  • Elections should be held in a free and fair way, with people having complete right to vote for whomever they want.

Question 2: Write any five electoral flaws you can think of.


The disadvantages of electoral competitiveness are as follows:

  • In every community, an electoral competition develops a sense of divisiveness and factionalism.
  • The pressure of winning an election prevents appropriate long-term policy from being developed.
  • Some fine people do not run for office because they believe that voting on communal and caste lines undermines democracy.
  • In order to win elections, different political parties and candidates frequently utilize dirty methods (such as offering money or booze to the poor).

Question 3: What is the distinction between a general election and a by-election?


                                                   General Election                                              By-election

Elections are held simultaneously or within a few days in all constituencies.

This is what is referred to as a general election.

A single constituency election is held to fill a vacancy created by the death or resignation of a member.

This is referred to as a by-election.

Elections are held on a regular basis every five years.  Elections are held within six months of the date the seat becomes vacant.
Representatives chosen in general elections are elected for a full five-year term, not just for the remainder of the house’s tenure.  The by-election representative is chosen for the remainder of the term of the house, not for five years. 

Question 4: What is Universal Adult Franchise, and how does it work? Why is it so well-liked in India?


Franchise refers to the right to vote and express one’s preferences. The Universal Adult Franchise occurs when every adult in a state is given the ability to vote or a franchise.

The following are some of the reasons why India should embrace Universal Adult Franchise:

  • It broadens democracy, enhancing the common people’s self-respect and pride.
  • It ensured that all members of society were treated equally in terms of political power.
  • It helps minorities to defend and protect their interests, ensuring that they have an equal say in decisions that impact them.

Question 5: Describe any three of the Indian Election Commission’s functions.  


The Election Commission of India has three key functions:

  • It makes decisions on all aspects of election conduct and control.
  • It is in charge of enforcing the code of conduct and can sanction any candidate or political party who breaks it.
  • It is in charge of the government officials assigned to election duties.

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