An election carried out every five years to the Lok Sabha or the Vidhan Sabha is known as a general election.
Sometimes, the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabha are dissolved and an election is held before the expiry of their full term of five years. Such an election is called a mid-term election. An election may need to be held for a single constituency, due to the untimely death or resignation of an elected member. The election carried out to fill this vacancy is known as a by-election.
The Indian election law provides that:
- Political parties or candidates cannot bribe or threaten voters
- They cannot ask for votes on the grounds of caste or religion
- They cannot make use of government resources or places of worship for campaigning
- They cannot spend more than Rs 25 lakh per constituency for a Lok Sabha election or more than Rs 10 lakh per constituency in an assembly election.
The Indian Constitution provides equal rights of representation to all the citizens of India.
The election system in India consists of the following stages:
- Delimitation of constituencies
- Reserved constituencies for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and also Other Backward classes and women
- Prepare a list of the eligible voters and distribute it among the people. The voters list is officially known as the Electoral Roll
- All citizens of age 18 years or above are eligible to vote and a voter aged 25 years or above is also eligible for contesting an election
- Nomination of candidates by political parties.
- Submission of nominations by candidates along with a security deposit.
- Campaigning of about two weeks.
- Polling on election day
The Indian government introduced the Election Photo Identity Card [EPIC] system. Every eligible voter on the list is issued a photo identity card. Carrying this EPIC is not mandatory. Instead, voters can provide proof of identity like ration card or driving license to exercise their right to vote. There is a common Code of Conduct for election campaigns, which all political parties in India have to follow.