The Electoral Reforms of India

In this blog, we will discuss the different electoral reforms made by the Government of India. We will learn about electoral reforms from 1988 to 2003.

What are the electoral reforms?

Electoral reforms are the changes and updates made by the government in the voting system and election commission of India. Here is the list of some significant electoral reforms.

Electoral Reforms of 1988

In 1988, 61st Constitutional Amendment Act was passed. The act made the following changes in the voting system of the country:

  • The act reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 years. The step was taken to represent the youth of India.
  • The officers assigned the task of preparing, revising, and correcting electoral rolls for elections are declared to be on deputation to the Election Commission.
  • The number of electors required to sign as proposers in nomination. Papers for elections in the state legislative councils and Rajya Sabha were increased to 10%.

Electoral Reforms of 1989

Following updates was introduced in 1989:

  • Electronic voting machines (EVMs) were introduced as a provision.
  • A provision was set for adjournment of the poll or countermanding of elections in the case of booth capturing.

Electoral Reforms of 1993

In 1993, the election commission decided to issue photo identity cards to voters all over the country. The step was taken to maintain the fake voting identities.

Electoral Reforms of 1996

Following reforms were introduced in 1996:

  • The candidates taking part in the elections were classified into three categories.
  • Candidates from recognised political parties.
  • Candidates from registered political parties.
  • Independent candidates.
  • Anyone convicted for the offences under the Prevention of Insults to the National Honour Act of 1971 is disqualified from participating in the union or state elections for six years.
  • No liquor should be sold around polling premises or shops or hotels near it for a fixed period. Anyone who violates the rule is fined up to INR 2000 or imprisonment up to 6 months.
  • If a contesting candidate dies before polling or actual results, The concerned party must submit another option within seven days.
  • By-elections have to be held within six months of the noticed vacancy.
  • The paid holiday was granted to the registered voters on the voting day. However, this rule is not applied to the voters whose absence may cause substantial loss regarding employment.
  • A candidate can’t contest from more than two assembly or Parliamentary constituencies at a general election.
  • Entry with arms in the premise of the polling area is strictly prohibited, And any is strictly punishable.
  • The minimum gap between the last eligible date for withdrawal of candidates and the polling date has been reduced to 14 days.

Electoral reforms from 1997-1999

  • In 1997, the constitution changed the number of electors required as proposers and seconders in Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections.
  • In 1998, a provision was made for the employees of government-aided institutions to be requisitioned for deployment on election duty.
  • In 1999, a provision was made to certain eligible classes to vote through the Postal Ballot.

Electoral Reforms of 2003

Following reforms were introduced in the year 2003.

  • The facility was provided to the service of voters of the Armed Forces to vote through Proxy in a prescribed way.
  • The election commission issued an order to every candidate of the central or the state legislature to furnish necessary information on his nomination paper.
  • An open ballot system was introduced for the Rajya Sabha elections.
  • The travelling expenditure of the candidate was exempted from his election expenses.
  • The government has to provide copies of electoral rolls and other prescribed materials free of cost to the candidates of recognised parties.
  • The parties were allowed to accept any amount of contribution from any non-government company or person.
  • The election commission should allocate equitable sharing of time of propagations related to elections on television networks and other electronic media.
  • The Braille signs were introduced in EVMs to facilitate the process for visually impaired people.

A Way Forward

Even after 2003, many changes were made in the voting system of the country. For example, in 2014, the NOTA system was introduced in the voting system. In the same year, the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail system was launched. In 2015, the government decided to put the photos of the candidates on EVMs and Ballot Papers. Electoral reforms are essential as they help in keeping the original meaning of democracy. At the same time, reforms assist in meeting the demands of the changing times and needs.