VICE Votes

We Answer the Most Googled Questions About the Indian Election

“Will Indian elections be hacked?”
Pallavi Pundir
Delhi, IN
April 11, 2019, 10:45am

The Great Indian Election is (finally) here. With Phase I of the seven-phase electoral exercise—which includes 20 of the 29 states—starting today, this is also the time to take stock of the last few crazy weeks of campaigning across 91 Lok Sabha constituencies, which has raised more questions than answers.

Speaking of questions, we looked at big daddy Google for the ones you’re asking about this election. Some of them have been mega important and life-changing (“Is there India elections holiday?”) whereas others prove that most of us know jackshit about the electoral process we all should be participating in. With that in mind, we set out to help you make sense of what’s going on around you.

Why do Indian elections matter?

Let me put this very, VERY briefly. Around 900 million Indians who have registered to vote from across the country have the power to decide what happens in their country for the next five years, based on the manifestos put forth by the two main parties: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC). Do you care about issues such as infrastructure? Jobs? LGBTQ issues? Environment? Minorities? If yes, then give voting a go. Anyway, how much worse can it get, really?

How much do Indian election workers get paid?

Not much. Looks like the frontline of the world’s most expensive elections is the most “underpaid and overburdened”. Reaching around 900 million registered voters in India is no mean feat. According to a 2016 annual report by the Election Commission of India, the 2014 general elections had a staff of nearly 5 million polling personnel and police forces. Their remuneration? Peanuts. A 2017 survey looking at the 2014 general elections highlighted the plight of booth-level officers (BLOs) who were reportedly getting paid Rs 3,834 (approx US$ 55) in 2017, as opposed to the Election Commission-mandated honorarium of Rs 6,000 (US$87).

Who will win the Indian election 2019?

If the 2014 general election outcome is anything to go by—in which the current leading party BJP won by a clear majority, a first in three decades of Indian politics—there’s no predicting the upcoming results. As this political analyst states, given its diversity and issues ready to blow up in the country’s face any time, the complexities render our elections “fiendishly difficult to predict”. Even the poll agencies are flawed. A recent study highlights how opinion polls are “moving away from reality”.

Praveen Chakravarty, chairman of the data analytics department of the All India Congress Committee, told India Today: “My analysis shows that forecasts were wrong 85 percent of the time in state elections post-2014. Yet, the same pollsters continue to predict without any accountability.”

Are Indian elections democratic?

If you’ve read our dummy’s guide to Indian elections over the last few days, you’ll know why the Indian elections are so important (and entertaining), enough to start a whole tourism business attached to it. India elected its first Parliament in 1951, and 16 general elections later, it’s safe to say that Indian election is as democratic as it gets. In fact, the Election Commission of India is so fixated on the promise of the democratic nature of its electoral process that it’s made sure that the polling booths reach the remotest corner: like setting up a poll booth for exactly one registered voter in Western India in 2012.

Do India elections involve betting?

Given the unpredictability of poll results and dodgy reputation of pollsters, the illegal satta (betting) market in India is mostly seen as an alternative guide to election results. And this time, too, these illicit bookies have already come up with their predictions: that of NDA’s win for the second time. The rates and volume of betting increases as the result day closes in, and this time, factors such as caste equation, farmers, traders, policies such as demonetisation and the Pulwama terror attacks have a strong hold over which way the votes will swing.

What is “one nation, one election”?

It’s a reform idea that talks about holding simultaneous Lok Sabha (LS) and Legislative Assembly (LA) elections, in which the voter casts their vote for electing members of LS and LA on a single day, at the same time. It doesn’t, however, mean that voting across the country will take place on the same day. This is also something that the present government has been talking about for a while, given that India used to do it before 1967. A paper published in 2017 reveals the logistics of executing this system, wherein a two-phase synchronised LS and LA election was suggested from 2025 onwards. Seen as cost- and time-effective, “one nation, one election”, for now, features in the BJP’s 2019 manifesto, ‘Sankalp Patra’.

What is Hasan Minhaj’s Indian elections episode?

Nothing worries Indian Twitter more than an 'outsider' spewing their two bits on their country— comedian Trevor Noah will definitely attest to that. Which is why, comedian Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act episode on the Indian elections on Netflix is perhaps one of the most informative guides out there, told from a very real and frighteningly bold perspective of an American Muslim of Indian origin. Plus, he called Shashi Tharoor a ‘wise moose’.

Will Indian election be hacked?

Legit question, especially since similar claims (which were squashed by the Indian election authorities) over 2014 general elections have recently surfaced. Since we’ve already established that things are very unpredictable in the Indian elections, the possibility of mass hacking of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) this time around is, well, not that surprising, right?

Is there a holiday for Indian election?

Very important question. But no, not across the country. Some regions do have a holiday, some don’t, and some are currently asking for it (are you listening, HR Roshni?). In some states, laws do allow workers a paid leave to vote; ping your HR to find out if that applies to you.

What is India elections Zuckerberg?

Let me drop this here, instead.

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