Presidential election explained: How the first citizen of India is elected?

Rashtrapati Bhavan | Photo: ANI

The election to the office of the first citizen of the Republic of India is just around the corner. The term of incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind ends on July 24, and the new president will take oath on July 25. The election to choose the next President of India will be held on July 18, and the last date to complete the nomination process is June 29.

Before we get any further, let us learn a bit about how the presidential system works in India and how it differs from other national and regional elections in India. Do you know how the elections of the President of India are conducted? Take a look at the complete process below.

According to the 'Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act 1952', the Election Commission of India calls for an election 60th day before the end of the five-year tenure of the incumbent president. It is worth noting that the last Presidential election was held on July 17, 2017.

Who can cast vote in Presidential Election?

As per Article 54 of the Indian Constitution, the president is elected to his office by the members of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha along with members in the legislative assemblies of States and the Union territories. However, those members nominated to both houses of parliament and state legislative assemblies will not be eligible to vote in the election. Additionally, members of the Legislative Councils are also not electors for the Presidential election.

How does the election process work?

The election process works in accordance with Article 55(3) which states that the election is held following the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote, and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.

Further, the value of votes is determined based on the population of the States as per Article 55(2) of the Constitution. The Constitution (Eighty-fourth Amendment) Act, 2001 pointed out that until the population figures for the first census after the year 2026 were determined, the population of the States for the purposes of calculation of the value of the votes will be based on the 1971 census.

Qualifications required for a candidate to contest in the election

No person shall be eligible for election unless he

1) is a citizen of India,
2) has completed the age of 35 years, and
3) is qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha.
4) should not be holding any office of profit under the GOI or the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Governments.

However, those candidates holding the office of President, Vice-President, Governor, Ministers of the Union or any state are allowed to contest the election.

Conditions to be fulfilled by a candidate for his nomination to be valid?

A nomination paper of a candidate for the election has to be made in the prescribed form (Form 2 appended to the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Rules, 1974), and it has to be subscribed by at least fifty electors as proposers and at least fifty electors as seconders. The nomination paper duly completed in all respects has to be presented to the Returning Officer, between 11 AM and 3 PM on any day other than on a public holiday appointed for the purpose by the Election Commission, either by the candidate himself or by any of his proposers or seconders. Here DzElectorsdz mean elected MPs and elected MLAs who are electors for Presidential Election.

The Security Deposit for the election, of Rs.15000/- should also be deposited either in cash with the Returning Officer or a receipt showing that the amount has been deposited by the candidate or on his behalf in the Reserve Bank of India or a Government Treasury should be furnished along with the nomination paper.

The candidate is also required to furnish a certified copy of the entry showing his name in the current electoral roll for the Parliamentary Constituency in which the candidate is registered as an elector. [see Sections 5B and 5C of the President and Vice-President Elections Act, 1952].

How is the value of votes of members of the Electoral College calculated?

The value of votes of electors is basically determined based on the population of the States in accordance with the manner laid down in Article 55(2) of the Constitution. The Constitution (Eighty-fourth Amendment) Act, 2001 provides that until the population figures for the first census to be taken after the year 2026 have been published, the population of the States for the purposes of calculation of the value of the votes for the Presidential Election shall mean the population as ascertained at the 1971 census. The value of the vote of each member of a State Legislative Assembly included in the Electoral College is calculated by dividing the population of the State concerned (as per the 1971 Census) by the total number of elected members of the Assembly and then further dividing the quotient by 1000. If the remainder, while so dividing is 500 or more, then the value is increased by Ǯ1ǯ. The total value of votes of all members of each State Assembly is worked out by multiplying the number of elective seats in the Assembly by the number of votes for each member in the respective State. The total value of votes of all the States worked out as above in respect of each State and added together is divided by the total number of elected members of Parliament (Lok Sabha 543+Rajya Sabha 233) to get the value of votes of each Member of Parliament.

Is the value of the vote of each elector the same?

The value of votes of MLAs would differ from State to State as the value of each such vote is calculated by the process explained below. However, the value of votes of all MPs is the same.

(Source: Election Commission of India)

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