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Process to elect next President of India begins today

If required, voting will be held on July 17 while July 20 has been fixed as the date of counting. Photograph: (Getty)

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 13, 2017, 03.14 PM (IST) Raghvendra Rao

Pranab Mukherjee's term as President of India ends on July 24 and the process to elect India's 15th President commences on Wednesday, June 14 when the election commission of India will issue the notification calling for the election. If required, voting will be held on July 17 while July 20 has been fixed as the date of counting.

So who elects the President of India?
Elected members of the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the elected members of state legislative assemblies including NCT of Delhi and UT of Puducherry vote to elect the President of India
A total of 4,896 legislators — 543 from Lok Sabha, 233 from Rajya Sabha and 4,120 from the state assemblies — will form the electoral college for the presidential polls this time.

How many votes does a legislator have?
The value of votes of each MLA and MP is arrived at by using formulae that take into account the population of respective states as per the 1971 census.
Currently, the total value of the votes of 4,120 MLAs is 5,49,495. 
And the total value of votes of 776 MPs is 5,49,408. 
Thus, the total value of votes for the presidential polls is 10,98,903.

What's the process to vote?
Voting for presidential polls in India is conducted using ballot papers. The ballot paper does not contain any election symbol and has just two columns--column 1 containing the heading “name of candidate” and column 2 containing the heading “order of preference”.
Each elector will have as many preferences as there are contesting candidates.
An elector in giving his vote will place the figure “1” in the space opposite the name of the candidate whom he chooses for his first preference and may, in addition, mark as many subsequent preferences as he wishes by placing on his ballot paper the figures 2,3,4 and so on in the spaces opposite the names of other candidates, in order of preference.

Is it a secret ballot?
The constitution has expressly provided that election to the office of Pesident shall be by secret ballot. Therefore, the electors are expected to scrupulously maintain secrecy of vote. There is no concept of open voting at this election and showing the ballot to anyone under any circumstances in the case of presidential elections is totally prohibited.

What about party whips?
Significantly, political parties cannot issue any whip to their MPs and MLAs in the matter of voting in the presidential election. This implies that legislators can vote as per their conscience and need not stick to political loyalties.

How is counting done?
After calculating the total value of votes polled by each candidate, the returning officer totals up the value of all valid votes polled. The quota for declaring a candidate as elected is determined by dividing of the valid votes by 2 and adding one to the quotient,
Ignoring the remainder, if any. For example, assuming the total value of valid votes polled by all candidates is 1,00,001. The quota required for getting elected would be 50,000+1=50,001
In the current scenario, whichever candidate wins 5,49,452 votes will become the next president of India.

Though several names have informally been doing the rounds, neither the ruling NDA nor the Opposition parties have formally announced the names of their respective candidates for the presidential polls yet. While the BJP would be hoping to create some consensus for its candidate, the opposition would try to use this as an opportunity to embarrass the govt by getting its candidate elected. This election will also provide opposition parties to form a front against the BJP in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

(WION)
 

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