India Elections: The biggest exercise in democracy ever starts Thursday

World Today


India holds the first phase of its general election Thursday. Voters will choose members of the parliament and their prime minister for the next five years.

The two leading candidates are incumbent Narendra Modi and Indian National Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

It will be a marathon voting process spread out over five weeks to the tune of over $500 billion. CGTN’s Gerald Tan takes a look at what’s involved.

The world’s biggest exercise in democracy. India’s general elections are a mammoth undertaking. And the numbers speak for themselves.

First up: nearly 900 million. That’s how many people are eligible to vote. Reaching them is a logistical challenge. Because election guidelines say no voter should be more than two kilometers away from a polling station, about one million polling stations are being set up, from urban centers to highland jungles.

Then comes the legion of workers to oversee operations: more than 11 million election officials and security forces. They’re being mobilized around the country by boats, rail, roads and even elephants. But there are still not enough for just one day.

So, voting takes place in seven phases spread out over the course of more than a month. That allows workers to be redeployed and to ensure the integrity of the vote.

But, incredibly, after a five-week process, vote counting for all the ballots in every constituency will be done in a single day, May 23rd, with results to India’s 2019 elections due that evening.