The process of electing India’s President

Contact Counsellor

The process of electing India’s President

  • The tenure of the current President of India is set to end in July this year, which is also when the 16th Indian Presidential election will be held to elect his successor.
  • The Assembly elections were held in five states this year, and the changes are expected to alter the dynamic of votes in the upcoming presidential race.

How is the President elected?

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  • The Indian President is elected through an electoral college system, where the votes are cast by national and State-level lawmakers.
  • The elections are conducted and overseen by the Election Commission (EC) of India.
  • The electoral college is made up of all the elected members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of States and Union Territories (MLAs).
  • Before the voting, comes the nomination stage, where the candidate intending to stand in the election, files the nomination along with a signed list of 50 proposers and 50 seconders.
  • These proposers and seconders can be anyone from the members of the electoral college from the State and national levels.
  • The rule for securing 50 proposers and seconders was implemented when the EC noticed, in 1974, that several candidates, many without even a bleak chance of winning, would file their nominations to contest the polls.
  • An elector cannot propose or second the nomination of more than one candidate.

What is the value of each vote and how is it calculated?

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  • A vote cast by each MP or MLA is not calculated as one vote. There is a larger vote value attached to it.
  • The fixed value of each vote by an MP of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha is 708.
  • Meanwhile, the vote value of each MLA differs from State to State based on a calculation that factors in its population vis-a-vis the number of members in its Legislative Assembly.
  • As per the Constitution (84rth Amendment) Act 2001, the population of States is taken from the figures of the 1971 Census.
  • This will change after the figures of the Census 2026 are published.
  • The value of each MLA’s vote is determined by dividing the population of the State by the number of MLAs in its legislative Assembly, and the quotient achieved is further divided by 1000.
  • Uttar Pradesh for instance, has the highest vote value for each of its MLAs, at 208.
  • The total votes of each Legislative Assembly are calculated by multiplying the vote value of each MLA by the number of MLAs.

What is required to secure a victory?

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A nominated candidate does not secure victory based on a simple majority but through a system of getting a specific quota of votes. While counting, the EC totals up all the valid votes cast by the electoral college through paper ballots and to win, the candidate must secure 50% of the total votes cast + 1. Unlike general elections, where electors vote for a single party’s candidate, the voters of the electoral college write the names of candidates on the ballot paper in the order of preference.

Why Indirect Election?

  • The system of indirect election for the President was criticized as going against the democratic ideal of a universal adult franchise.
  • However, the constitution-makers chose the indirect election over the direct election as it would cause a great loss of time, energy and money, all of which would be disproportionate in the election of a nominal head of the state.

Exam track

Prelims take away

  • President of India - Constitutional position, the election process
  • Single transferable vote

Mains track

Q. How is the President of India elected? Comment on the nature and role of political parties in the election of the President in India.