India along with many other democracies has a political culture of regular elections. Year after year pre and post-election rituals and processes are becoming complex. Founding fathers of India Constitution knew that regular elections are an integral part of a dynamic and an ever-lasting democracy. Thus, to ensure, that elections are conducted regularly they formed a special body called the election commission of India and gave it a special constitutional place under Art. 324. This body is responsible for the elections of members of Loksabha, Rajyasabha (I am mentioning both the houses differently because the method of elections is quite different) Vice-President and the President of India. But is this institution of election commission a common institution around the world?
Elections in the US
Let’s take a look at a nation which the whole world is watching currently, The United States of America. Does United States have a constitutional body called the election commission? The answer is yes and no. Yes, because there is a body called ‘The Federal Election Commission’ or the FCC but it is neither a constitutional body nor does have the power to ‘Conduct’ elections. It is a statutory body and has the power to enforce the laws regarding election campaigning. Unlike the FCC the ECI in India declares the dates of the elections, makes all the arrangements and enforces the law regarding elections, the Moral Code of Conduct and also counts the votes and declares the winner
In United States different bodies do these tasks respectively. We’ll for now focus on the Presidential Elections. In India the ECI declares the dates of the poles (Just like Bihar Elections) but in the US the convention is that Presidential Elections takes place on the Tuesday after the first Monday in the month of November. So, no one has to declare the date. However, the process of arrangements for this day start well in October itself when the Archivist of the United States sends letters to the governors of the states. This letter also contains guidelines regarding the electoral college. (Click on the link to know more about the electoral college, if you know it already, Congratulations. Let’s read ahead) Then it is the responsibility of the individual governors of the state to oversee the process of elections and make arrangements.
Declaring the Winner
After the votes are counted, a certificate of ascertainment -A document which confirms the winning candidate and its electors. (If you know how electoral college works then you’ll know who these electors are) is sent to various authorities including the Archivist (The one who sends Governors letters) After the votes are cast and victorious electors of that state are declared (Which happens on November 3 this year, the electors cast their votes for the President and the Vice-President somewhere in December) In December when the votes are casted, the governor of every state sends Certificate of votes to different authorities. This is later confirmed by the Congress and the Congress declares President Victorious.
This process is extremely complex and evolutionary. Today by convention it is more or less fixed but anything can happen in U.S. elections and in near future we can see different conventions evolving. Thus, the US does not have a single body which overlooks the whole process, but a lot of moving parts which ensure that elections are not easily rigged but at the same time they make the process extremely time consuming and complex.