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11. Who can vote?

The democratic system in India is based on the principle of universal adult suffrage; that any citizen over the age of 18 can vote in an election (before 1989 the age limit was 21). The right to vote is irrespective of caste, creed, religion or gender. Those who are deemed unsound of mind, and people convicted of certain criminal offences are not allowed to vote.

There has been a general increase in the number of people voting in Indian elections. In 1952 61.16 per cent of the electorate voted. By 1996 the turnout for the general election was 57.94 per cent. There have been even more rapid increases in the turnout of women and members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, who had tended to be far less likely to participate in elections, and voting for these groups has moved closer to the national average.    (Back)

12. The Electoral Roll.

The electoral roll is a list of all people in the constituency who are registered to vote in Indian Elections. Only those people with their names on the electoral roll are allowed to vote. The electoral roll is normally revised every year to add the names of those who are to turn 18 on the 1st January of that year or have moved into a constituency and to remove the names of those who have died or moved out of a constituency. If you are eligible to vote and are not on the electoral roll, you can apply to the Electoral Registration Officer of the constituency, who will update the register. The updating of the Electoral Roll only stops during an election campaign, after the nominations for candidates have closed.(Back)

13. Computerisation of Rolls.

The Election Commission is currently undertaking the computerisation of the electoral rolls throughout India, which should lead to improvements in the accuracy and speed with which the electoral roll can be updated. This has already been completed in the northern states of Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh and the Eastern state of Tripura and Rolls in the new computerised format put to use for the general Election in 1998.(Back)

14. Electors' Photo Identity Cards.

In an attempt to improve the accuracy of the electoral roll and prevent electoral fraud, the Election Commission has pressed for the introduction of photo identity cards for voters. This is a massive task, and at present over 338 million have been provided. The Commission is providing ways and methods to deal with the problems with the issue of cards, and difficulties in keeping track of voters, especially the mobile urban electorate.(Back)

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