Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Voting System in First General Elections

In the first general elections, the ballot paper had no names of candidates, nor symbols of the contesting parties. There was not even stamping of the ballot paper. Instead, there were separate boxes for each candidate in the polling booth, bearing his or her name and the party symbol. The voters were required to put the ballot - a piece of shiny paper no bigger than a one-rupee note (now extinct) - in the box of the candidate of their choice.

The 'science' of rigging was also born in the first general elections itself, and it quickly exploited the chinks in the balloting system. Agents of some candidates would stand outside the polling booth and tell the voters: 'Don't put the ballot inside the box. Put it in your pocket and bring it with you. We'll give you a one-rupee note if you give us your ballot paper.' One rupee was a lot of money in those times. After collecting twenty-five to thirty such ballots, one of the agent's men would go in and drop them off in his candidate's box.

Symbols were allotted constituency-wise, and it was possible for the same symbol to be granted to candidates of the different parties in different constituencies. It was only in 1962, during the third general elections, that multiple ballot boxes were replaced with a single box and the secret 'marking system' was introduced.

Taken from My Country My Life by L.K.Advani.