Sunday, July 7, 2019

Vox shows how India runs the planet's largest election

Today, I'm in a serious but optimistic mood, so I'm sharing Vox's How India runs the world's biggest election.  Pay attention to all the effort made to allow as many people to vote as possible.

900 million eligible voters need access to polling booths.
Elections in India aren’t like others. India voted to pick its central government for the next five years throughout the spring of 2019. An eighth of the world’s entire population was eligible to vote in this election. That’s 900 million people, and more than 67 percent voted.

India runs the world’s biggest elections, and officials put in a lot of effort to make this democratic exercise is as accessible as possible. This means they make sure everyone, even in the most remote locations, is near a polling booth — even if it means bringing voting machines to them by elephant.
Compared to the United States, where voter suppression is such an issue, India, at least as portrayed by Vox, really tries to make voting available to everyone.  I think that makes India a better example to follow than the U.S. when it comes to voting in a democracy.  A comparison of turnout supports that view, as India's latest election had a turnout of 67.1%, while the best the U.S. had was 62.3% of eligible voters and 58.2% of total voting-age population in 2008, according to Wikipedia, while 2016 saw 55.5% of voting-age population actually vote.  Time to advocate for the U.S. doing at least as well as India.


  1. Meanwhile, psephologists* are woeful because only 91% of Aussies voted in the federal election this year. Granted, the voting population of Oz isn't as large as the census of many Indian cities, so it's not a huge feat to get the raw numbers through the polls. And voting is mandatory here (if you're registered -- some people choose not to even sign up) so the real question is what kind of strife are the scofflaws going to cop for NOT voting?

    (Actually I sorta know the answer to that, because one of my nasty habits is that I occasionally pilfer wads of unclaimed mail in my building's mailroom that are laid on top of the boxes by people who have moved into flats, but there's still stuff being posted to former residents. I open 'em in the privacy of my own unit. It's like a demographic survey of the departed: how many people get notices of unpaid bills, alerts that their "superannuation" (mandatory payroll deductions for retirement) funds are about to go to zero because the greedy super companies drain the balance by imposing bullshit insurance charges, etc. After state and federal elections, I start seeing "infringement notices" levying fines for non-voting, which are in the range of $25. Only, if the people have "upped sticks" and never see the notice, how are they gonna pay?)

    But srsly, the System here tries to make it easy to vote. Early in-person voting goes on for weeks ahead of election day. Postal ballots are easy to get. If you live in one part of a state, or even in another state, you can still rock up to a polling place wherever you are at the moment and get a ballot for your area. The Australian Electoral Commission (an official government body) keeps all the bases covered. They WANT people to vote; not to turn them away. (Which is only fair, since it is mandatory.)

    As much time as I spent at the polling booths this year handing out leaflets for Green Party candidates (a few hours a day, a couple days a week during early voting) I still cannot cast a ballot, sadly. My citizenship application is such a grind. Now waiting for police clearance certificates from the U.S. and Canada before I can submit the thing. Then who knows how long it will take in the bureaucracy? It'll have to be better than in Canada, where I waited 2 ½ years with no word on my permanent residency app -- and believe me, I TRIED to get word -- only to have it granted two months after I gave up and moved back down to Australia. Maybe by the next Aussie federal election in 2022...

    * That's a fancy word for someone who studies elections, if you didn't know already.

    1. I was thinking about Australia's mandatory elections as I wrote the entry, but decided not to use it as another model for contrast to India, where it's much more about access than compulsion. I don't think the Australian model will work in the U.S., even if the penalty is a the equivalent of a cheap parking ticket.

      As for your citizenship, I wish you luck. My ex-girlfriend managed to get landed immigrant status fairly quickly as the spouse of a Canadian. I gather your second wife wasn't Canadian. If she had been, you'd have earned that status sooner.

      Also, I hope no one in the office that determines your eligibility for citizenship isn't reading your comment. On the one hand, I don't know if they would approve. On the other, I promise not to tell anyone what you did.

      Finally, thanks for telling me what a psephologist is. I am an amateur psephologist and I didn't even know it!