The Indian Millennial’s Quick Guide To Voting Rights

Posted by Youth Ki Awaaz in #JetSetVote
July 4, 2017
Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #JetSetVote, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook India have come together to create a community of millennials who are aware and informed about their voter rights and responsibilities, through a series of workshops organised in collaboration with PRIA across 50 campuses. If you're a student, teacher or admin member, register your college to organise a fun session!

Attaining 18 years of age is an important milestone in our lives. Suddenly, we’re adults who are allowed all the basic rights that an average citizen enjoys. But there’s also an important responsibility that comes with turning 18 – the responsibility to vote, choose our leaders and make our contribution towards improving our country. And it’s not a difficult process at all!

Here’s the voting process, simplified for you!

Why should you vote?

For all those times you’ve complained, saying “Nothing can be done to change this country!” voting is a chance to begin the change.

We belong to the largest democracy in the world and a democracy runs on the power of its people. Taking off an hour from your schedule to cast a vote is a crucial step to take in changing the way things are run in the country. It makes you a participatory citizen and an agent of change. Your vote influences the way your constituency, district, city and country are governed and how local and national issues are resolved. You can also hold the representatives you elect responsible for the actions taken, thanks to this deciding power.

Most importantly, it gives you a voice, your unique voice, to be heard and heeded. And while it might seem insignificant, it’s undisputedly one of the most important decisions you can take, a decision that can make all the difference to your country and people!

When can you vote?

The first step to voting is to get enrolled as a voter. Anyone who’s 18 years as of January 1 of the year that electoral rolls are prepared, can enrol for voting.

Electoral rolls consist of lists of all eligible voters who’ve registered to vote, and it is based on these that voters are assigned polling booths from where they can cast their votes.

Where can you vote from?

The EC registers a person in the constituency where they ordinarily reside, and in case you move from your residence, the EC needs to be intimated. You can vote only from one location in India.

Can you vote without a voter ID card?

Every registered voter is given an identification card, called Electors’ Photo Identity Card (EPIC) or the Voter ID Card. However, while casting your vote, other commonly accepted proofs of identification are PAN card, driving license, ration card, student’s ID card and passport.

Young women after voting in India.

How can you register to vote?

You can register to vote by applying in Form 6 before the Electoral Registration Officer in the following ways:
– Online at www.eic.nic.in or respective state’s Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEOs) website.
– By post, after downloading and filling Form 6.
– By hand, after downloading and filling Form 6.

What are your rights if your name isn’t on the electoral rolls?

Simply having ID isn’t enough to vote. If your name isn’t on the electoral roll, you will not be permitted to vote.

You can get disqualified from voting for any of the following reasons:

– If you’ve become a citizen of another country.
– If you’ve been declared ‘mentally unsound’ by a court.
– If you’ve been found guilty of corrupt electoral practices.
– If you’re found to be impersonating another person.

You can check if your name is on the electoral roll with the Electoral Registration Officer of your area. For major cities, this information is also made available online on official websites.

Whom can you approach for grievance redressals related to electoral issues?

– Chief Electoral Officer (State Level)
– District Election Officer (District Level)
– Returning Officer (Constituency Level)
– Assistant Returning Officer (Taluka/ Tehsil Level)
– Presiding Officer (Polling Station)

Two women holding their voter ID cards. Image source: Ajay Aggarwal/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Do you have a right to not vote?

If for any reason, you wish to decline from voting, that is a right you can exercise. What you need to do is go to the polling booth and inform the Presiding Officer. In such a situation, your finger will be inked, but you will not be asked to cast a vote.

Can you refrain from choosing a candidate without refraining from voting?

Yes, you can use the newly introduced NOTA option on the ballot paper to cast a vote without selecting any particular candidate.

What happens if someone else has cast the vote in your name?

If in case someone else has cast the vote in your name, you still have the right to vote, using a tendered ballot paper. This will be collected by the Presiding Officer and kept separately. But this vote will not be counted unless there is a narrow margin between the winning candidate and his rival.

Do you have the right to proxy voting and postal ballots?

People on election duty, armed forces personnel and those who are in preventive detention can vote using postal ballots (casting votes through post).

Armed forces personnel, police and government officials posted outside India can also avail of proxy voting, by authorising another to cast their votes.

Do you have the right to be enrolled from more than one place?

A person cannot be enrolled in more than one location in a constituency or in any other constituency, as it is illegal.

As a voter, what information about candidates is available to you?

As per the rules of the EC, you have a right to access to the following information about the candidates before voting:

a) Their criminal antecedents.
b) Their assets and liabilities and those of his/her spouse and dependents.
c) Their educational background.
d) Copies of their nomination papers and accompanying affidavits.
e) Details of any dues owed by the candidates to the Government.

You do not have the right to:

– Offer or accept money, gratification or any other inducement to vote or not vote for a particular candidate.
– Induce another elector on grounds of religion, caste or community to influence another elector’s vote.
– Threaten another elector with excommunication to vote or not vote for a particular candidate.

#JetSetVote is a nationwide movement by YKA and Facebook India to make voting fun, interesting and engaging for the Indian millennial and empower you with your voting rights and responsibilities. Read more here and pledge your vote today – because every vote counts!
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Featured image source: Gagan Nayar/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images

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