When the world’s largest democracy votes….

It is pretty amazing, seeing what it takes to accommodate 800+ million eligible voters. Voting occurs over several weeks: today is voting day in Delhi & 13 other states across the country, next week it’s voting day in Bangalore, etc. Which means there is no one night staying up to see who wins — exit polls roll in over the course of a fortnight. Such suspense! Secure voting machines have been deployed by truck, camel, yak and elephant (seriously!). Once a person votes, a special ink is used to mark an appx 1cm stripe on his/her finger, from the top knuckle to the nail — it’s reportedly indelible, so that voters cannot scrub it off and vote a second time. (A local told me that when he was in his early 20s, the ink used could be removed with a chemical akin to nail polish remover — a trick he and his buddies gleefully used to vote half dozen times for their favourite candidates. The ink has improved since then, or so I am told.) Most companies close to encourage employees to vote. Lastly, voting days in any given location are “dry” the day before and of the election. The explanations I’ve been given include that this (1) encourages people to go vote, rather than waste the day sitting around getting drunk and (2) prevents politicians from buying votes with drinks & bottles. Honestly, I need a drink just to get thru the 1-day US elections, polls & results…

But the rate of participation is truly amazing — voter turn out is in the 70%-85%, depending in the state. The US should take note! >

Photo from the Hindustan Times of a voter’s finger with special ink.

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