1. VVPATs to be used in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections
The Supreme Court of India directed the EC in 2013 to introduce VVPAT in LokSabha Elections 2014 to improve voter confidence and ensuring transparency of voting. Voter verifiable paper audit trial (VVPAT) is an independent system attached to an EVM that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. When a vote is cast, a slip is printed on the VVPAT printer containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate voted. This remains visible to you through a transparent window for seven seconds. Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls into a sealed drop box.
2. National Voter’s Day
India celebrated the 9th National Voters’ Day on 25th January 2019 at more than 6 lakh locations covering around 10 lakh Polling Stations across the country. It was organized by Election Commission of India at Manek shaw Centre. It is celebrated every year since 2011. The theme for NVD 2019 was ‘No Voter to be Left Behind’.
3. Corporate Political Funding
Electoral Bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. A person being an individual can buy Electoral Bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals. Only the Political Parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last General Election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, shall be eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds. The Electoral Bonds shall be enchased by an eligible Political Party only through a Bank account with the Authorized Bank (SBI). State Bank of India (SBI), has been authorised to issue and encash Electoral Bonds through its 11 Authorised Branches (not all). Electoral Bonds shall be valid for fifteen days from the date of issue. The bonds will be issued in multiples of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹1 lakh, ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore. The bonds will be available for purchase for a period of 10 days each in the beginning of every quarter, i.e. in January, April, July and October. Electoral bonds will not bear the name of the donor. The intention is to ensure that all the donations made to a party will be accounted for in the balance sheets without exposing the donor details to the public.
4. Model Code of Conduct (MCC)
Election Commission has recently asserted that MCC will come into effect from the day the premature dissolution of an Assembly in a State or a Union Territory is announced. It will remain in force till the new government is formed.The model code refers to a set of norms laid down by the Election Commission of India, with the consensus of political parties. It is not statutory. It spells out the dos and don’ts for elections. Political parties, candidates and polling agents are expected to observe the norms, on matters ranging from the content of election manifestos, speeches and processions, to general conduct, so that free and fair elections take place. The code comes into force on the announcement of the poll schedule and remains operational till the process is concluded, as provided in the notification. It is also applicable to a “caretaker” government on premature dissolution of a State Assembly, as was the case in Telangana.
Election Commission has withdrawn the provision for the NOTA option for elections to the RajyaSabha and the State Legislative Council. Supreme Court has previously given directive not to extend NOTA to elections in RajyaSabha. None of the above (NOTA) is a ballot option designed to allow the voter to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in a voting system. The idea behind the use of NOTA is to allow the voter to register a “protest” vote if none of the candidates is acceptable to her for whatever reason. While NOTA votes are tallied, the candidate with the highest number of votes polled is declared elected irrespective of the NOTA total.
6. Voter Awareness Forums (VAFs)
Voter Awareness Forum (VAF) was launched by Election Commission of India recently. Voter Awareness Forums are informal Forums for generating awareness around electoral process through activities like discussions, quizzes, competitions and other engaging activities. All employees of the Organization are expected to become members of the VAF with the Head of the Organization acting as the Chair. VAF is part of the Electoral Literacy Club (ELC) program of ECI.
7. Poll Symbols
The Election Commission has two lists of symbols namely reserved and free. Reserved symbols are allotted to candidates sponsored by recognized state or national parties. Similarly a list of free symbols is prepared by ECI for independent candidates or those from unrecognized parties. These candidates have to choose three symbols from the list at the time of submission of nomination papers. One of the three will be allocated to him/her. Any choice other than from the list will be summarily rejected. Two or more recognized political parties can have the same symbol provided they are not contenders in the same State or Union Territory.
8. Snap Election
Israel will go for snap elections in April 2019. In India, Telangana state has gone for snap elections for the state legislative assembly. It is an election called earlier than expected. Generally, it refers to an election in a parliamentary system called when it is not required either by law or convention, usually to capitalize on a unique electoral opportunity or to decide a pressing issue.
9. Appointment of Election Commissioner
Under article 324 Election commission (EC) consist of Chief election commissioner and such number of other election commissioners (fixed by president time to time), as of now the EC consist of one CEC and 2 Election commissioners. Chief Election commissioner and other election commissioners are appointed by the President of India. Chief Election commissioner is the chairman of election commission; the CEC and other Election Commissioners have equal powers and receive equal salary and other emoluments similar to those of a Supreme Court judge. The Chief Election Commissioner or an Election Commissioner shall hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 65, whichever is earlier.
10. Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017 – Proxy Voting
The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017 proposes to amend the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960, which stipulates the physical presence of the overseas electors in the respective polling station. This will lay down the procedure by which NRIs could nominate their proxies. Proxy voting – Voting in an Indian election can be done in three ways – in person, by post or through a proxy. Under proxy voting, a registered elector can delegate his/her voting power to a representative. Only a “classified service voter” is allowed to nominate a proxy to cast vote on his/her behalf. The definition includes members of the armed forces, BSF, CRPF, CISF, General Engineering Reserve Force and Border Road Organisation.