My vote - My choice - A guide for voters
The topic provides information about a citizen's role in voting during elections.
Elections - how important it is for an Indian citizen
Elections is important for the citizens of India because it is
- A chance given to him/ her to decide the governing authorities be it at the centre / state / municipality / panchayat.
- A golden opportunity to exercise his / her constitutional right and participate in a democratic exercise
Who can vote in a election?
A person is eligible to vote if s/he is
- A citizen of India and
- Has completed 18 years of age as on 1st January, 2017 and
- Has registered as a voter in the current electoral roll of the constituency where s/he ordinarily resides.
Citizens of unsound mind and declared so by a competent court or those who are temporarily disqualified from voting under any law relating to corrupt practices and other election offence cannot vote
Why should I vote?
- Your most sacred right
- Your right is the at the heart of our democracy
- Your chance to decide your future & that of your fellow citizens
- Gives you the ultimate power to shape the destiny of your country
- Every vote counts
FAQs related to voting
How can I register/enroll myself as a voter?
You have to file the application (Form 6, along with the supporting documents for proof of address, date of birth etc.) before the Electoral Registration Officer / Assistant Electoral Registration Officer of the constituency within which your place of ordinary residence falls. Normally, you need not appear in person. You can also apply online. To access the link, click here.
Once this is done, your name will appear on the ‘electoral rolls’ for the constituency, which is mandatory for you to vote in an election. To search your name on the rolls and find other details relating to your constituency, click here.
You will need to submit documents showing proof of age only if you are between 18 and 21 years of age. In all other cases, your declaration will be taken as proof of age.
My name has been spelled wrongly in the roll! How can I correct mistakes like this?
My name is on the rolls, now how do I find out which polling booth I have to go to?
You can find out this information from the Electoral Registration Officer of your area. Electoral rolls in all major cities have now been displayed on official websites also. To find this information, click here.
Once your name is on the rolls, you also need an identity document to be able to cast your vote - this ID is typically issued by the Election Commission of India (“ECI”) and is known as the Electors’ Photo Identity Card (EPIC, more commonly as the Voter ID card.)
How do I obtain the Voter ID Card? What is its significance in casting my vote?
The ECI issues the Voter ID card to citizens after their names have successfully been included in the electoral rolls of their constituency. The ECI has made voter identification mandatory at the time of poll - you have to show your Voter ID Card issued by the ECI or any other documentary proof allowed by the ECI in order to be able to vote.
However, also keep in mind that just because you have your Voter ID Card does not mean that you will definitely be allowed to vote - because it is mandatory that your name should appear in the electoral roll. Once you have found out that your name is present on the electoral roll and you also possess an identification document prescribed by the ECI (the Voter ID card or any other acceptable document), you are entitled to vote.
I was registered to vote in my home state, but now I have moved for my job. Can I enroll in more than one place? If not, how can I transfer my vote?
You cannot be enrolled as a voter at more than one place. While applying for fresh enrolment, you have to make a statement or declaration stating that your name is not already included in the electoral roll of any other constituency. (If you make a false statement or declaration, you can be punished (The Representation of People Act 1950 Section 31) with jail time of upto one year, or fine, or both)
If you have shifted your home, and your new home is in the same constituency, you need to fill Form 8A and submit the same to the Electoral Registration Officer / Assistant Electoral Registration Officer. To apply online, click here. If your new home is in a different constituency, you need to fill up (Form 6 again (same as in the case of a fresh application).
I went to the polling booth, but someone has already voted in my name! What can I do?
If the Polling Officer tells you after you have reached the polling station that your vote has already been cast, you should immediately bring this to the attention of the Presiding Officer. In such a case, the Presiding Officer may ask you questions to confirm your identity. Once he/she is convinced that your identity is genuine, he or she will give you a tendered ballot paper and you will be allowed to cast a ‘Tendered Vote’ (according to Rule 42 of The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961). A tendered ballot paper is the same as the ballot paper displayed on the balloting unit, except that it will be endorsed (either stamped or written) with the words ‘Tendered Ballot Paper’ on the back.
After marking your choice of candidate, you should hand over the tendered ballot paper to the Presiding Officer, who will keep it in a separate cover. In such a case, you will not cast your vote on the Electronic Voting Machine. Courts have said that tendered votes should be taken into account only when they are likely to affect the outcome of the election, i.e. when the margin of victory is less than the number of tendered votes.
How do I pursue any complaints or objections?
If you have any grievance in regard to electoral roll, Voter ID or any other election related matter you may approach the following officers:
- Chief Electoral Officer – At the State Level
- District Election Officer – At the District Level
- Returning Officer – At the Constituency Level
- Assistant Returning Officer – At Taluka/Tahsil Level
- Electoral Registration Officer – At the Constituency Level
- Presiding Officer – At Polling Station
- Zonal Officer – For a group of Polling stations
During every election, the ECI also appoints ‘Observers’ who are senior civil service officers from outside the state. You can also approach them if you have any grievances or problems. You may find details for some of these officers in your area here.
FAQs related to Electoral rolls
What is an electoral roll?
An electoral roll is a Voters list which has the list of all eligible citizens who are entitled to vote in an election. It is prepared for each Assembly Constituency. Each electoral roll is further sub-divided into parts. Normally, one part will correspond with one polling booth. Polling booths are set up so that no voter should ordinarily travel more than 2 kms to reach the booth.
Why is the electoral roll important to me?
Having your name in the electoral roll is the first and foremost requirement for you to vote. It is your duty to find whether your name has been registered in the roll or not.
How do I check my name in the electoral roll?
You first need to find out the name of the assembly constituency where you reside. You have the following options to check your name in the list:
- Contact the Electoral Registration Officer of your area
- Find out from the website of the CEO of your state. Visit http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/Links.aspx for details.
- Usually all states have now the provision to get the status through SMS. For eg. for NCT of Delhi, Send SMS: EPICVoter ID Card Number to 9211728082.
- Call the toll-free election helpline no. 1950
FAQs related to Voter ID card
Why should I have a voter ID card?
- Voter identification is mandatory at the time of poll
- To cast your vote, you have to identify yourself with your Voter ID issued by the Election Commission or by the Photo Voter Slip issued by the Election Office or by alternate documents prescribed by the Election Commission
- Voter ID is also known as Electors’ Photo Identity Card (EPIC)
I have a Voter ID; is it enough to vote?
No, having Voter ID is not in itself a sufficient condition to cast vote. You can vote only if your name appears in the current electoral roll of your constituency. Hence, you can vote if your name is there in the roll and you have an ID prescribed by the Election Commission.
I have lost/misplaced my Voter ID; does this mean that I cannot cast my vote in this Election?
No, you can still vote by producing the Photo Voter slip issued by the Election Office or alternative documents prescribed by the Election Commission.
What is a Photo Voter Slip?
- A Photo Voter Slip is a voter slip with your photo (if present in the voters list) issued by the election office.
- It facilitates you to know where you are enrolled as a voter at a particular polling station & serial number in the voters list
- It will be in the language in which the voters list is published for your constituency
- It will be accepted as your identity proof at the polling station
How can I get my Photo Voter Slip?
It will be given to you at your residence by the Booth Level Officer for your area. In case you misplace it or do not get it by the day of voting, you can collect it on the poll day from the Booth Level Officer positioned outside the polling station at the Voter Assistance Booth.
My photograph in the Voter ID does not match with the photo in the voters list; can I still cast my vote?
Yes, you can still cast your vote (provided your name is in the current electoral roll), by producing any of your following alternative photo documents:
- Driving License
- Service identity cards with photograph issued to employees by Central / State Govt. PSUs / Public limited companies
- Passbooks with photograph issued by Bank / Post Office
- PAN card
- AADHAAR card
- Smart card issued by RGI under NPR
- MNREGA Job Card
- Health insurance smart card issued under the scheme of M/o Labour
- Pension document with photograph
FAQs related to Voting process
What is the time allotted for voting?
- From 07:00 AM to 06:00 PM in general in all constituencies
- From 07:00 AM to 05:00 PM in the North Eastern Region
- From 07:00 AM to 04:00 PM in Manipur & Nagaland
- From 07:00 AM to 04:00 PM in some other constituencies
- You can find out the poll hours for your constituency from the website of the Election Commission www.eci.nic.in
- The Commission has also instructed the CEOs/DEOs to give wide publicity regarding the same in their states/districts.
Where do I go to cast my vote?
- You can find out the name and address of your polling station from the Photo Voters slip issued to you by the Election Office
- You can also find this out from the website of the Election Commission of India ( www.eci.nic.in ):
- Locations of most polling stations in the country have been plotted on maps
- You need to click on the tab ‘Polling Station Maps’ on the ECI website
- You would then see the names of the States/UTs for which maps of polling stations are available
- If maps are available for your state/UT, you can:
- Select your State/UT
- Select District, Assembly Constituency and Polling Station names from drop down lists
- Click a button to see Polling Station Locations of the selected area on the map viewer on the page.
- Polling Station Locations are seen as Pins dropped on the map for each Polling Station.
- On clicking on the Pin, a balloon opens up showing the names and cell phone numbers of the Chief Electoral Officer, District Election Officer, Electoral Registration Officer and Booth Level Officer
- There is also a link provided for Electoral Rolls. On clicking this link, Electoral Roll for that Polling Station opens up in PDF format and can be saved by the user on his local computer and also printed from the local computer.
What is the step-by step process to vote
The process is as follows
Stage 0: Reaching the Polling Station
- You must carry your Voter ID, Photo Voter Slip or other alternative photo document as required for identifying yourself at the polling station
- It is advisable to leave your mobile phone at home
- If you take a private vehicle to reach the polling station, you should park the vehicle at a reasonable distance - usually more than 200 metres - away from the polling station
- When you reach the polling station, entry will be regulated by queues
- There will be separate queues for men and women voters and for physically handicapped persons
- At a time, 3 – 4 voters will be allowed into the polling station
- Physically handicapped voters and women voters with babies in arm will be given precedence over other voters in the queue
Stage 1: Establishment of your Identity
- You should first go to the First Polling Officer who is in charge of the marked copy of the electoral roll and responsible for identification of voters.
- You should keep your identity document ready to show to the First Polling Officer.
- You can also show to him/her the unofficial identity slip giving your particulars. However, you should remember that the unofficial identity slip only helps in locating your name in the electoral roll; it is not a guarantee of your identification.
- Your name and serial number will then be called out by the First Polling Officer so that the polling agents become aware of your presence and your identity is not challenged.
Stage 2: Marking of indelible ink, obtaining of your signature or thumb impression & Issue of signed Voter’s slip(s)
- If your identity is not challenged, you should proceed to the Second Polling Officer
- He/she will mark your left forefinger with the indelible ink.
- He/she will then proceed to record your serial number in the electoral roll in the Register of Voters.
- Once this is recorded, you should sign in the appropriate column in the Register of Voters.
- If you cannot sign, your thumb impression will be obtained.
- Now, in case of election to only Lok Sabha: The Second Polling Officer will give you a signed voter’s slip.
- In case of simultaneous elections to both Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assembly: The Third Polling Officer, who will be sharing the table with the Second Polling Officer, will give you two identical voter’s slips – one on white paper and the other on pink paper. He will then direct you to the Fourth Polling Officer.
- The voter’s slip(s) will record your serial number in the register of voters and your serial number in the electoral roll.
Stage 3: Activation of Ballot Unit for the Lok Sabha Election
- You should then proceed to the Third Polling Officer (in case of election to only Lok Sabha) or Fourth Polling Officer (in case of simultaneous elections).
- He will take the voter’s slip for Lok Sabha election issued to you by the Second Polling Officer (in case of election to only Lok Sabha) or Third Polling Officer (in case of simultaneous elections).
- He will then press the "Ballot" button on the Control Unit of voting machine for the Lok Sabha Election, thus activating the Ballot Unit in the voting compartment for the Lok Sabha election.
- He/she will then direct you to the voting compartment for the Lok Sabha election.
Stage 4: Casting your vote on the Ballot Unit for the Lok Sabha Election
- You should then record your vote on the ballot unit of the voting machine for the Lok Sabha election.
- You should remember that each voter will proceed to the voting compartment in exactly the same sequence in which his/her serial number is recorded in the voters’ register.
- In case of election to only Lok Sabha: The voting procedure ends here. You should then leave the polling station and clear way for other voters.
- In case of simultaneous elections, proceed to Stage 5.
Stage 5: Activation of Ballot Unit for the Assembly Election
- After casting your vote for the Lok Sabha election, you should proceed to the Fifth Polling Officer.
- He will take the voter’s slip for Assembly Election issued to you by the Third Polling Officer.
- He will then press the "Ballot" button on the Control Unit of voting machine for the Assembly Election, thus activating the Ballot Unit in the voting compartment for the Assembly election.
- He/she will then direct you to the voting compartment for the Assembly election.
Stage 6: Casting your vote on the Ballot Unit for the Assembly Election
- You should then record your vote on the ballot unit of the voting machine for the Assembly election
- The voting procedure ends here. You should then leave the polling station and clear way for other voters.
Things to Remember while Inside the Voting Compartment
- You should press the blue candidate button on the Balloting Unit against the name and symbol of the candidate of your choice.
- You may also press the new None of the Above (NOTA) button at the end of the unit if you don’t want to vote for any candidate
- You should press the button only once.
- When you press the blue button, you should watch out for:
- The red lamp glowing against the name and symbol of your candidate
- The beep sound to indicate that your vote has been recorded
- Simultaneously, the busy lamp in the Control Unit will go off.
- With this, your vote is cast.
What if someone else has cast the vote in my name?
- The First Polling Officer may tell you on arrival inside the polling station that your vote has already been cast
- If this happens, you should inform this to the Presiding Officer immediately
- The law allows you to cast a Tendered Vote
- A Tendered Ballot Paper, as per Rule 49P of the Conduct of Elections Rules, will be given to you
- If you choose to vote, you will be required to:
- sign your name on the list of tendered votes
- mark your choice of candidate with the help of Arrow Cross Mark rubber stamp on the ballot paper given to you
- hand over the tendered ballot paper to the Presiding Officer
- In this case, you will not cast your vote on the EVM
- A Tendered Ballot Paper is the same as the ballot paper displayed on the balloting unit, except that it shall be endorsed on the back, with the words, “Tendered Ballot Paper” either stamped by the Returning or written by the Presiding Officer in hand at the time of issuing it.
Source : PIB
NOTA - None of the Above is also a candidate now in election
On 27 September 2013, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the right to register a "none of the above" vote in elections should apply, and ordered the Election Commission to provide such a button in the electronic voting machines, noting that it would increase participation.
The Election Commission of India has introduced a specific symbol, like other election symbols, for ‘None of the Above (NOTA)’ option, to facilitate the voters in exercising their NOTA option. This symbol will appear in the last panel on all Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and the others ballot papers against the ‘None of the Above (NOTA)’ option at all elections to be held.
The main objective of the ‘NOTA’ option is to enable electors who do not wish to vote for any of the candidates to exercise their right not to vote for any candidate without violation of the secrecy of their decision. In earlier times, eligible voters who want to reject all contesting candidates for a constituency had the option of filling Form 49-O at a voting booth but this compromised the secrecy of the ballot.
Source : Election Commission of India and PIB