Every democratic country holds elections regularly. A democratic election allows people to decide who will make laws for them, who will run the government and who will take major decisions. To make elections truly democratic each citizen should have a vote, voters should have choices, elections should be held regularly, elected candidate should be allowed to form government and elections should be conducted in a free and fair manner.
In India, the constitution makers allow free competition, i.e. any number of parties can participate in the election. Political competition has its merits and de-merits, but the merits outweigh de-merits. Elections are held every five years for both the Lok Sabha and State Legislatures. A single representative is elected from each constituency. There are separate constituencies for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha. Reserved Constituencies are the electoral constituencies that are reserved for weaker sections. A list of the people who can vote in a constituency is prepared. It is known as the voters’ list (also called Electoral Roll). In India, all citizens aged 18 years and above can vote. To contest in an election, the minimum age is 25. There is no prescribed minimum qualification for nomination of candidates.
Election campaigns are important as people get to know the various candidates and the policies they promise to implement. A Model Code of Conduct is followed by political parties during campaigning. Votes are cast on the Election Day at the polling booth. Earlier, ballot paper was used for this purpose, but now Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used. Counting of votes is later done on a scheduled date. To ensure that elections in India are truly democratic, an independent body known as the Election Commission of India conducts the election. Popular participation is another criterion that makes elections in India truly democratic. However, there are many challenges to free and fair elections in India.