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US Election vs Indian Election

3rd July, 2024 International Relations

US Election vs Indian Election

Source: NWORLD

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.

Context:  US President Joe Biden's woeful performance in the presidential debate against challenger Donald Trump has re-ignited questions about what would happen should the veteran Democrat step down as party flagbearer at the last minute.

Details

Introduction

Elections are a crucial component of any democratic system, allowing citizens to exercise their right to choose their representatives. The United States and India, being two of the world's largest democracies, have distinct election systems that reflect their unique political landscapes.           

Major Differences              
The United States and India are both democratic nations with robust election systems. While they share some similarities, there are notable differences between the two countries' election processes.

Political Parties: 

USA

  • The main difference between the electoral process in India and the USA is the nature of their party systems.
  • There are two main parties in the USA political scene, namely, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. They stand for very different ideologies, which is the main source of conflict and debate during elections. Although the Libertarian Party, Green Party, and other smaller parties exist, they are considered to be independent entities as they are outliers and are incapable of competing with the two major ones.

India

  • India, on the other hand, has multiple parties that operate on the state level and only a few that successfully operate at the national level.
  • The two largest parties in India are the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Similar to the USA, the ideologies of these differ to a huge extent, presenting voters with an option during the elections
  • It is the regional parties who tend to supply many deserving candidates. Most states have a dominant regional party.
  • The two big national parties have had to form alliances with such parties to retain the majority and the favour of the people.
  • For example, states like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have regional parties with a strong presence, such as AIADMK and Trinamool Congress respectively.
  • INC and BJP cannot claim to have any reach. However, the regional parties rarely have a clear-cut ideology on their manifesto and have dynamic policies which are based on the needs and responses of the people of their state. 

Voter Registration:

USA

  • In the United States, voter registration is decentralized, with each state responsible for maintaining its own voter rolls.
  • Eligible citizens must register themselves individually, either in person or online, by providing identification and meeting specific deadlines.
  • The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

India

  • India follows a centralized voter registration system managed by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
  • Indian citizens aged 18 and above are automatically eligible to vote and are registered through a door-to-door enumeration process conducted periodically. 

Campaign Financing:          

USA

  • In the United States, campaigns are primarily funded by private donations from individuals, corporations, and political action committees .
  • These contributions are subject to certain regulations and disclosure requirements.

India

  • In India, political parties and candidates receive funds from various sources, including individual donations, corporations, and the government.
  • The Election Commission of India imposes expenditure limits to curb excessive spending and promote a level playing field.  
  • For Lok Sabha constituencies, candidates are restricted to Rs 95 lakh, whereas for Assembly seats, the limit stands at Rs 40 lakh. 

Voting Procedures:            

USA

  • In the United States, voting is typically conducted on a predetermined Election Day.
  • Citizens cast their votes in person at designated polling stations or through mail-in absentee ballots.
  • Some states also allow early voting.

India

  • Indian elections, on the other hand, are conducted over multiple phases to accommodate the large electorate.
  • Voters cast their votes in person at polling booths in their respective constituencies using electronic voting machines (EVMs) or paper ballots.

Electoral Governance:       
USA

  • In the United States, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) oversees federal elections, while each state has its own election administration responsible for conducting state and local elections.

India

  • In India, the Election Commission of India is an Constitutional body responsible for conducting elections in the country, for state assembly and national Assembly.
  • Each state has a state election comission to conduct election for local governments Panchayat and Municipalities.

System of Government:   

  • United States: The US follows a federal system with a presidential form of government, where power is divided between the federal government and individual states.
  • India: India is a federal parliamentary democratic republic, where power is divided between the central government and states. 

Election Schedule:              

  • United States: The US has fixed election dates for federal offices, such as the presidential election held every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
  • India: Elections in India are held periodically based on the term of the elected body. General elections for the Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament) are held every five years, while state legislative assembly elections have varying schedules.

Electoral Boundaries

  • United States:Electoral boundaries are drawn by each state through a process called redistricting, which can sometimes be subject to gerrymandering.      
  • India:Electoral boundaries are determined by a process called delimitation, which is conducted by a Delimitation Commission. The commission reviews and redraws boundaries to ensure fair representation.
     

 Election Monitoring:         

  • United States:Election monitoring is conducted by non-governmental organizations, political parties, and the media. Observers ensure transparency and fairness during the election process.
  • India:The Election Commission appoints observers to monitor elections, ensuring fair conduct and adherence to election rules. Political parties and candidates can also appoint their own agents to observe the process.     

Election Campaigns:           

  • United States:Election campaigns in the US are highly competitive and can be expensive. Candidates engage in extensive campaigning, including rallies, debates, and media advertisements, to gain voter support.
  • India: Candidates utilize various methods, including public rallies, door-to-door campaigning, and mass media advertisements, as well as social and digital media platforms.

Vote value

  • The United States primarily uses a plurality system, where the candidate with the most votes in a constituency wins, even if they do not secure an absolute majority.
  • India, on the other hand, follows a first-past-the-post system, where the candidate with the highest number of votes, regardless of majority, wins the election.

Election Results and Transition of Power:   

  • United States:Once the results are certified, the winning candidate assumes office, and there is a formal inauguration ceremony for the President.
  • India:In India, once election results are declared, the winning candidates assume their respective offices. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, and the Council of Ministers is formed.

Role of Media:    

  • United States:Media plays a significant role in US elections, providing coverage, analysis, and commentary on candidates, campaigns, and election issues. Media organizations conduct exit polls to project election results.       
  • India: Media also plays a crucial role in Indian elections, providing extensive coverage and analysis. However, the Election Commission imposes restrictions on exit polls to maintain the secrecy of voting. After all phases of election over the media allowed to bradcast exit poll. 

Diversity and Representation:        

  • United States: The US election system strives for diversity and representation. Efforts are made to ensure the inclusion of underrepresented groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities, women, and marginalized communities.
  • India:India's election system aims for representation from diverse social, cultural, linguistic, and regional backgrounds. Reserved constituencies are established to promote political representation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Conclusion:
the electoral systems of the United States and India exhibit both similarities and differences. One significant similarity is that both countries have democratic systems where citizens have the right to vote and elect their representatives. Both the US and India conduct regular elections to determine their leaders and representatives at various levels of government. Additionally, both countries have independent election commissions responsible for overseeing the electoral process and ensuring fairness and transparency.
      

Sources:

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PRACTICE QUESTION

Q. Give an account on differentiation and similarity between USA and India election system. 150 words