An election is a formal way of selecting the representative by the population of the country to hold the public office. The public decision-making process has started operating from the 17th century, and the process is also used in many private and business organizations as well.
From time to time, many electoral reforms were introduced to bring transparency and fairness or effectiveness of the system. Electoral reforms include vote counting procedure, rules for the political parties, voting equipment from ballot paper to EVM machines, election laws and voters safety and so on.
Let us not forget that elections do cost the political parties, candidates and the ordinary citizens as well. It does cost to create a system for elections, logistics and infrastructure cost, compensation for the election staffs, and so on. So, how expensive Indian polls are? Take a look.
According to a survey for the just concluded Lok Sabha polls 2019, Indian elections have become the most expensive in the world. In the world’s biggest democracy, political parties and candidates have to spend money to woo the 900 million voters.
An estimate says, the concluded Lok Sabha elections have cost nearly ₹60,000 crore ($8.7 billion), and it is more than double of 2014 general elections, according to the New Delhi based Centre for Media Studies report. Based on the field report, analysis and estimation, one vote has cost nearly ₹700 or nearly ₹100 crore for one parliamentary constituency.
Interestingly, some constituencies consisting of over three million voters, equivalent to a country like Jamaica’s population. So, to impress these voters, candidates have to spend more money on campaigning, for logistics and some candidates even distribute cash to the voters to influence them to get votes from them.
USA presidential elections in 2016 cost $6.5 billion according to opensecrets.org, which tracks the spending in American politics.
Chairman of CMS, N Bhaskar Rao opinions that at this rate, the next coming 2024 general elections could easily cost ₹1 trillion or even more. Election expenditure is the mother of all corruptions in India, says Bhaskar Rao.
Can election expenditure be reduced?
Yes, reducing election expenditure is very much possible.
- Election Commission of India (ECI) needs to bring some innovative laws and make changes to the existing rules on spending money by each candidate who’s contesting in the elections.
- The political parties and candidates should take advantage of technology to reach the voters.
- Logistics and staffs expenditure can be reduced by implementing technology wherever possible.
- Duration of the election could be reduced by conducting elections by reducing the number of phases.
- By setting the spending limit for the political parties and candidates, expenditure can be reduced.
Growing election expenditure is not a good sign for the health of democracy. The cost of elections should not lead to the growth of corruption again. This expenditure shows that only rich can win in the polls, which is a threat to the world’s largest democratic country like India. So, immediate action should be taken by the Election Commission of India.