Why It Will Take India 44 Days to Vote

Election officials will try to reach all 970M eligible voters—which is no easy feat
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2024 8:34 AM CDT
Why It Will Take India 44 Days to Vote
Election officials inspect Electronic Voting Machines before they are loaded on to a truck for distribution on the eve of the first round of voting in the six-week-long national election in Chennai, India, on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Nearly 970 million people, or over 10% of the global population, are eligible to vote in India's general elections that start Friday and last until June 1. The mammoth exercise is the biggest anywhere in the world and will take 44 days before results are announced on June 4, per the AP. Why so long? It boils down to two key reasons: the sheer size of India, the world's most populous country, and the astonishing level of logistics needed to ensure that every registered voter is able to cast their ballot. India's Election Commission has to make sure there is a voting booth available within 1.2 miles of every voter. During the last election in 2019, a team of polling officers trekked over 300 miles for four days just so a single voter in the remote state of Arunachal Pradesh could exercise their right.

Over the years, the duration of voting has varied. This year's election is the second longest and will include 18 million first-time voters and around 197 million who are in their 20s. Some 15 million election officials and security staff will traverse the country's deserts and mountains to try to reach every voter. The vote to choose 543 lawmakers for the lower house of Parliament takes place over seven phases. India's 28 states and eight federal territories will vote at different times. Each phase is one day, with the first held on April 19 and the last on June 1. While some states will cast their ballots in a day, voting elsewhere may take longer. The largest state, Uttar Pradesh, which has the population of Brazil with 200 million people, will vote on all seven days, for example.

Experts say a key reason behind the multiphase elections is security. Tens of thousands of federal security forces, who usually guard borders for instance, are freed up and deployed alongside state police to prevent violence and transport electoral officials and voting machines. This election finds Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a third successive term. Most surveys predict Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party will win comfortably, cementing him as one of the country's most popular and consequential leaders. Among the issues dominating the campaign are the rising cost of living, corruption, federalism, and minority rights, the AP reports. (More India stories.)

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