HOW IS THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA ELECTED? 

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The President of India is the de jure head of India. He/she is indirectly elected by the people of India (Article 54). He is elected by an Electoral College, which comprises elected members of both the Houses of the Parliament of India; the elected members of the legislative assemblies of every state and the elected members of the legislative assemblies of the Union territory of Puducherry and the national capital region (NCR) of New Delhi (as per 70th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992).

Nominated members to the two houses don’t participate in the election to the office of the President of India. It should be noted here that nominated members do participate in the impeachment of President of India (Article 61).

Every MP and MLA are given a specified number of votes.

In case of an MLA, this number is equal to the population of the state divided by the number of elected members of the legislative assembly of that state and further divided by thousand. If this number is higher than 500 another vote is allocated to each member.

The value of votes of electors is basically determined on the basis of population of the States. Since population figures are dynamic and keep changing every year, it has been decided through the 84th Amendment Act, that until the population figures for the first census after 2026 are published (in other words, 2031 census), the population of the States for the purpose of this calculation will mean the population as per the 1971 census.

For example:

Value of Vote of an MP = Total value of votes of all MLAs of all States/Total Number of Elected MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

The MPs and MLA give vote on the ballot paper by marking their preference to the candidates. These ballot papers are later separated in trays which are meant for the candidate to whom the first preference was marked.

The totals valid votes cast are multiplied by the value of each vote and that total is credited to the candidate as the total value of votes secured. After this, value of valid votes secured by each candidate is totalled. 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 the total value of 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 1,00,000.

The quota required for getting elected is: 50,000 +1 =50001 If any candidate has secured the above quota of votes, he/ she is declared elected.

The Constituent Assembly (9 December 1946 – 24 January 1950) has laid down the guidelines for the election process of the President of India in Article 54 & Article 55of the Constitution of India.

Article 54

The President shall be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of—

a. the elected members of both Houses of Parliament; and

b. the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States.

Explanation.—In this article and in article 55, ”State” includes the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union territory of *Pondicherry.

Article 55

  1. As far as practicable, there shall be uniformity in the scale of representation of the different States at the election of the President.
  2. For the purpose of securing such uniformity among the States inter se as well as parity between the States as a whole and the Union, the number of votes which each elected member of Parliament and of the Legislative Assembly of each State is entitled to cast at such election shall be determined in the following manner:—
    1. every elected member of the Legislative Assembly of a State shall have as many votes as there are multiples of one thousand in the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the State by the total number of the elected members of the Assembly;
    2. if, after taking the said multiples of one thousand, the remainder is not less than five hundred, then the vote of each member referred to in sub-clause (a) shall be further increased by one;
    3. each elected member of either House of Parliament shall have such number of votes as may be obtained by dividing the total number of votes assigned to the members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States under sub-clauses (a) and (b) by the total number of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament, fractions exceeding one- half being counted as one and other fractions being disregarded.
  3. The election of the President shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.

Explanation.—In this article, the expression ”population” means the population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published: Provided that the reference in this Explanation to the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published shall, until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 1 [2026] have been published, be construed as a reference to the 1971 census.


Important points:

  • The President shall be elected by the members of an electoral college; hence, indirectly elected by the people. The electoral college consists of —
    • Elected members of the Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Parliament of India);
    • Elected members of the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Parliament of India);
    • Elected members of each stateVidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly (lower house of the state legislature); and
    • Elected members of each union territory possessing an Vidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly (i.e. National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry). This was possible only after the 70th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992.
  • Only elected members can vote; the nominated members of the Parliament or the State Legislative Assembly aren’t eligible to vote in this. There are 12 nominated members in Rajya Sabha & 2 nominated members in Lok Sabha.
  • Member of the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council can’t vote. This is because only seven out of twenty-nine states of India have a Vidhan Parishad.
  • The election will be held in accordance with the system ofproportional representation. Until 2026, the necessary calculations are to be done by the 1971 census (as per the 84th Constitutional Amendment Act).
  • The election will be held by means of the single transferable vote.
  • The election will be held by secret ballot.

Proportional Representation: Proportional Representation is an electoral system designed to represent in a legislative body each political group or party in proportion to its actual voting strength in the electorate. To understand how it works please understand the methods to count & use Value of an M.L.A. Vote & Value of an M.P. Vote.

Value of an M.L.A. Vote:

The value of an M.L.A. Vote = [(Total population of state or U.T.)] / [(Total number of elected members of the Legislative Assembly) * 1000]

Let us take two states for illustration [1]:

State 1:

  • Name of the State/Union Territory: West Bengal
  • Number of Legislative Assembly seats (elective): 294
  • Population (1971 Census): 44,312,011
  • Value of the vote of each MLA: 151 (= 44312011/294000)
  • Total value of votes for the State/Union Territory: 44394 (= 151 * 294)

State 2:

  • Name of the State/Union Territory: Uttarakhand
  • Number of Legislative Assembly seats (elective): 70
  • Population (1971 Census): 4,491,239
  • Value of the vote of each MLA: 64 (4491239/70000)
  • Total value of votes for the State/Union Territory: 4480 (64 * 70)

So, in approximate terms, total value of votes for a State/Union Territory is proportional to its population according to the 1971 census.

Value of an M.P. Vote

The Value of an M.P. Vote = [(The sum of vote value of elected members of all the legislative assemblies)] / [(The sum of elected members of both the houses of Parliament)]

  • The sum of vote value of elected members of all the legislative assemblies (of all the State or Union Territory) = 549474
  • The sum of elected members of both the houses of Parliament = Lok Sabha (543) + Rajya Sabha (233) = 776
  • The value of each vote of an M.P. = 549474 / 776 = 708 (approx.)
  • The total value of votes of the Rajya Sabha = 233 * 708 = 164964
  • The total value of votes of the Lok Sabha = 543 * 708 = 384444
  • The total value of votes of the Parliament = 776 × 708 = 164964 + 384444 = 549408

So, in approximate terms, the total value of votes of the Parliament is almost equal to the total value of votes of all the legislative assemblies (of all the State or Union Territory).

  • Total number of electors of Legislative Assemblies (elected) = 4120
  • Total value of votes of Legislative Assemblies = 549,474
  • Total number of electors of Parliament (elected) = 776
  • Total value of votes of Parliament = 549,408
  • Total number of electors = 4896
  • Total value of votes of all Electors (i.e. the Electoral College) = 1,098,882

Single Transferable Vote: To understand the concept of single transferable votes please understand the below example. Say, seven people are running for Presidential Election based on Single Transferable Vote.

  1. Aakash
  2. Bhawna
  3. Chris
  4. Dipankara
  5. Eesha
  6. Fabia
  7. Geet

Let us say there are 2000 voters in the Electoral College. Then,

Election Quota = [(Total Valid Votes)/2] + 1 = 1001 (assuming all 2000 votes were valid votes)

Even if a candidate receives maximum votes (that is, more than any of the rest of the candidates), but doesn’t cross the Election Quota, he or she cant become president; unless, he or she wins after the process of Single Transferable Vote.

A voter of the Electoral College (unlike a regular voter who casts his or her vote for just one candidate in an election) has to mark his or her order of preference for each of the seven people for the post on a ballot paper. So, if a voter of the Electoral College casts his or her vote with the following order: Geet, Bhawna, Chris, Dipankara, Fabia, Aakash, Eesha, he or she wants Geet to be the president; if not Geet then Bhawna, if not Bhawna then Chris, and so on.

After the results, lets say no candidate gets 1001 votes against his or her name. Let the distribution of votes be:

  1. Aakash: 50
  2. Bhawna: 100
  3. Chris: 200
  4. Dipankara: 250
  5. Eesha: 400
  6. Fabia: 400
  7. Geet: 600

The candidate who gets least number of votes will be eliminated. So, Aakash is eliminated and 50 ballots papers that has Aakash as its first preference will be reconsidered for its second preference.

Below are the second preferences of the 50 ballots papers:

  • Bhawna: 10
  • Chris: 10
  • Dipankara: 10
  • Eesha: 20

So after the transfer of Aakash’s votes, the new vote count is:

  1. Aakash: 0
  2. Bhawna: 110
  3. Chris: 210
  4. Dipankara: 260
  5. Eesha: 420
  6. Fabia: 400
  7. Geet: 600

The process will be repeated. Bhawna with 110 votes will be eliminated. The next preference in 110 ballot papers will be considered. Below are the next preferences of the 110 ballots papers:

  • Chris: 30
  • Dipankara: 20
  • Eesha: 50
  • Fabia: 10

So after the transfer of Bhawna’s votes, the new vote count is:

  1. Aakash: 0
  2. Bhawna: 0
  3. Chris: 240
  4. Dipankara: 280
  5. Eesha: 470
  6. Fabia: 410
  7. Geet: 600

The process will be repeated. Chris with 240 votes will be eliminated. The next preference in 240 ballot papers will be considered. Below are the next preferences of the 240 ballots papers:

  • Dipankara: 50
  • Eesha: 150
  • Fabia: 40

So after the transfer of Chris’s votes, the new vote count is:

  1. Aakash: 0
  2. Bhawna: 0
  3. Chris: 0
  4. Dipankara: 330
  5. Eesha: 620
  6. Fabia: 450
  7. Geet: 600

The process will be repeated. Dipankara with 330 votes will be eliminated. The next preference in 330 ballot papers will be considered. Below are the next preferences of the 330 ballots papers:

  • Eesha: 150
  • Fabia: 80
  • Geet: 100

So after the transfer of Dipankara’s votes, the new vote count is:

  1. Aakash: 0
  2. Bhawna: 0
  3. Chris: 0
  4. Dipankara: 0
  5. Eesha: 770
  6. Fabia: 530
  7. Geet: 700

The process will be repeated. Fabia with 530 votes will be eliminated. The next preference in 530 ballot papers will be considered. Below are the next preferences of the 530 ballots papers:

  • Eesha: 250
  • Geet: 280

So after the transfer of Fabia’s votes, the new vote count is:

  1. Aakash: 0
  2. Bhawna: 0
  3. Chris: 0
  4. Dipankara: 0
  5. Eesha: 1020
  6. Fabia: 0
  7. Geet: 980

Because Eesha has crossed Election Quota of 1001 votes she will be the president.

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