Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Pressing the button - once in five years

Electronic voting machine
Photo credit: Election Commission
While democracy vests in people the right to vote, there are many people who prefer not to exercise their franchise. My father, who was an erudite teacher, was one.

He had contempt for politicians, though he was never vocal about it. He always felt politicians were poor role models for the citizens, especially the youngsters.

There are many who share that view. Even I do. So, I always wondered if I should vote or not. Most politicians are always busy "playing politics" rather than governing.


When I turned 21 and became eligible to vote, I decided to go out and choose the representative of my area. I was in Kerala then. Though I shared the cynism of the democratic process, the reason I cast my ballot was I wanted to know how it was like inside a polling booth and how it felt like having voted.

A few years later, I left the state for the north of the country when I got my first job. After that, I didn't vote for many years, since I never took the trouble to enrol myself as a voter in the places I lived.

The next time I voted was many years later when I moved to Bengaluru. (On November 1, 2014, the city changed its anglicised name of Bangalore to its original name in the local language.)


The reason I voted for the state assembly elections was, I thought voting is the simplest and the easiest way (and probably one of the most important ways) to keep the democratic system of governance alive.

When I accuse the politicians of not having done their job, I should have done mine, is it not?

Especially when it is so easy to actually go to the voting station and make the choice, though choosing whom to vote might not be as easy.

I have exercised my franchise in all the elections since then, including on April 23 when Bengaluru voted in the third phase of the general election that is currently on. One more phase is remaining. That is on May 19.

The process has become easier and simpler over the years, and the Election Commission and the federal government should be given due credit for ensuring that the whole process -- right from enrolling oneself in the voters' list to finding the voting station to actually casting the vote -- is a breeze.


Voting is not compulsory in India, where the votes are cast electronically -- the voter presses the button against the name of the candidate on an electronic voting machine, commonly called here as the EVM.

The once-in-five-years national elections to choose a new parliament is being held in seven phases over one and a half months, considering the enormous scale of the exercise -- there are as many as 900 million voters -- the biggest in the world.

We will know the results on the 23rd of this month. We will know which party will get the majority in parliament and who will be the next prime minister.


Have you voted? Do you always have good candidates to choose from?


  1. Hi Pradeep, this was an interesting read mainly because we in Australia are undergoing our own Federal election this coming Saturday. I wasn't aware that voting wasn't compulsory in India but it is here in Australia. I agree with you it is all about keeping democracy alive and I believe voting is essential if we want a fair government voted in by the people. That way you can't complain if you have voted, unlike those who didn't vote. #mlstl

  2. We are, as Deb above said, about to go to the polls in Australia. Yes it is compulsory voting here once you are 18. State, Local Council and Federal elections. We are OVER it right now as there has been a great deal of mudslinging...but on Saturday night or on Sunday we will know the result. Then more will be in the media..Over it would describe most people's feelings right now BUT I would never not vote and once my kids and grandkids were 18 they too were keen to have their say.

    Denyse #mlstl

  3. Important information.

  4. For me, voting in elections has been more about whom I didn't want to be in power.

    Destination Infinity

  5. True India is the largest functioning democracy. Voting is an easy part of the exercise. There are still many things to be done to make our vibrant democracy cleaner and truly representative. Thanks for the nice post.

  6. Very interesting blog post. I want to comment on your last line. Do you always have good candidates to choose from? I think it is impossible in India in a parliamentary democracy. The candidate as a person may be good and honest. However, when rules are made and policies are changed, that good candidate has to vote with what the party decides even though he/she may be personally against it. Also, I am totally opposed to party HQ deciding to give “tickets” to people authorizing them to contest for elections. The party HQ gives the tickets to their sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, and whoever can spend the largest amount for an election campaign.

    In a presidential style democracy, the candidates to contest on behalf of each party are decided by the people (Primary). Also, the elected representatives have independence to decide how they vote on policies and new rules.

  7. It's easy to get complacent as long as things are going well. But we in the US have discovered first hand how bad things can get when too many people aren't invested. When the crazies vote for the crazy party.

  8. It's so interesting to hear how things work in other countries. Your elections sound so much simpler than ours, which is only getting longer and more complicated.

  9. I have always voted... for a couple of reasons but primarily because I feel I don't have the right to complain if I haven't cast a vote. If the available candidates are all not suitable, I have stopped voting for "the best of a bad lot" and sometimes spoil my ballot as a protest. Not sure what I'll do when electronic voting becomes more widespread. #mlstl

  10. This is a very thought-provoking post, Pradeep. I didn't vote when I lived overseas, but I have voted all other times. I agree, that informed voting is an important way to keep the democratic system alive -- or at least try to!

  11. As Deb said, we're about to vote in Australia this weekend for our Federal party that leads the country. We don't have EVMs - it's all done with paper and a pencil and then manually counted. It sounds like you're a lot further ahead than we are down here when it comes to automating the process.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I've shared on my SM :)

  12. Hi Pradeep - I've always voted ... and arranged to vote when I went over to Canada for a year, but that didn't occur ... now I'm back and in the shenanigans of Brexit!

    We don't have compulsory voting ... our European Parliament Elections next week will almost certainly be giving us one awful mix up of a country's representation in the European Parliament ... with few voting and new parties, who couldn't participate in the recent local elections, as the parties weren't organised enough, but who can now put up candidates for next week's election.

    Our parliamentary system is in flux ... it is interesting - history will decide ... long after I'm gone.

    Fascinating to read your process ... I've sort of kept any eye out on the Indian elections - simply because there are so many of you and the pure logistics of it. We can postal vote, or go to the polling station ... I've done both - next week I'll go down to the polling station to put pencil to paper.

    Cheers and thanks for this - Hilary

  13. Hi Pradeep, we are in the midst of Elections at the moment in Australia and for the first time since I voted I cannot decide who to vote for. It is such a shame to think our country has come to this. Thank you for sharing at #MLSTL and enjoy your weekend.


  14. -- Hi Debbie: I have been reading about how the Australian government officials have been setting up facilities in remote places so that people in those areas can vote. Let's see what the election will throw up. Thanks for dropping by.

    -- Hi Denyse: Talk of mudslinging, not any different in India either where campaigning dips to new lows. All in the name of democracy!

    -- Hi Rajesh: That's the process of elimination rather than selection. I guess for many it's like that, given the sort of candidates we have.

    -- Hi KP: You are right. Democracy is not just about voting. It's more about governance.

    -- Hi Rajan: Vajpayee used to be referred to as the right person in the wrong party! O, yes, dynasty politics is now a feature of not just one party. Here in Karnataka, JD(S) has beaten Congress in that respect!

    -- Hi Liz: That's the flip side of democracy. Only the numbers matter!

    -- Hi Oneil: There are pluses and minuses for each system. The presidential system has its advantages, and the round of primaries you have is also, I think, a good thing.

    -- Hi Agnes: Here in India, you will have a choice even if no candidate is suitable. There is an option called "None of the above", popular by the acronym, "Nota". If you think no candidate is suitable, you can press the button against Nota. There have been cases where some candidates have polled fewer votes than Nota! But so far, Nota has never emerged the winner.

    -- Hi Donna: Yes, an opportunity to choose who should govern us is definitely a privilege.

    -- Hi Leanne: EVMs here have their critics. Actually, the Election Commission had invited anyone to show if the EVMs can be rigged or votes altered. None has been able to do it, at least till today.

    -- Hi Hilary: I know Brexit has wreaked havoc, with no consensus on how to proceed with Brexit. Yes, the election of MEPs will be quite important considering the many issues that have cropped up in Europe now.

    -- Hi Sue: I have been following the Aussie politics, and I can understand your frustration. There have been too many changes in the leadership of the coalition government, with so much of politics being played out, on who should back whom. Quite natural since there is so much of polarisation of ideas within the ruling coalition. And I think Scott Morrison is more of a moderate. But it will be anybody's guess if Liberal-National will retain power or Labor will trump them. We will now the day after tomorrow.

  15. My husband and I feel duty bound to vote in every possible election, and do our best to support the best person/levy/issue possible whether countrywide for the USA or our Midwestern state of Ohio. I tend to agree about politicians, for sure. Be well!


  16. Hi Darla: Yes, that's my approach too - make the best possible choice from the options that we have. Thanks for dropping by.

  17. Politicians serve for themselves.We choose out of two evils the lesser. Nice.


  18. Hi Sarala, exactly, very often it's all about choosing the lesser evil!

  19. It is our right to exercise our franchise. Someone should come to power.So let us choose the lesser evil out of two evils.Nice write-up.