Managing Elections; Strengthening Democracy - Learning from the India Experience

November 2013

Over 50 million people voted in state elections in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Their progress was watched by a delegation of 21 representatives from eight countries including South Sudan, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Senegal and the Gambia. This sharing of knowledge was made possible through a partnership between the Election Commission of India and the United Nations Development Programme which aims to to promote exchange of experience and expertise in the field of electoral management and administration with other countries. 

Highlights

  • Delegates from seven countries from Africa and the Middle East visited India during assembly elections of Nov 2013 to better understand the country’s electoral processes
  • As part of the visit, the delegates visited dispatch centres from where electoral machinery is deployed; voting centres with electronic voting machines; and interacted with ECI officials
  • The visit was part of UNDP’s partnership with ECI that shares knowledge and experiences on election management with countries of the South
  • Rajasthan and Delhi witnessed record turnouts, over 65% in Delhi and 75% in Rajasthan

As the world largest democracy, India’s competence in electoral management is well established. Not only had the ECI conducted 15 General Elections, it had anchored 350 assembly elections as well. 9811148071

It’s a shining example of a country that overcomes tremendous odds, to consistently bring more and more people each year to the ballot box, through a process that is efficient, quick and uses technology for the advantage of its citizens. So the effort was to share the ECI’s well-established norms and practices with countries looking to strengthen their democratic functioning and refine their electoral systems.

It’s an example of excellence that other developing countries and new democracies are learning from. In November – December 2013, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, three states in the heartland of North and Central India held elections to the state legislative assemblies. Representatives from seven countries including South Sudan, Nigeria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Senegal and the Gambia visited these states to gain insights on the management of elections in India..

This sharing of knowledge and experience was made possible through a partnership between the Election Commission of India and the United Nations Development Programme in India which aims to support electoral management in other countries.

All three states witnessed record turnouts, over 65% in Delhi, over 70% in Madhya Pradesh and 75% in Rajasthan.  More than 50 million people voted across the states under the watchful gaze of tens of thousands of police, election officials and paramilitary soldiers deployed to ensure smooth and peaceful elections.

Following a briefing by Election Commission officials to better understand efficient and inclusive electoral management, delegates visited dispatch centres from where the electoral machinery is deployed to voting centres, with electronic voting machines where long queues were testimony to the success of widespread voter awareness programmes.

For many of the visiting delegates, this experience of familiarizing themselves with the election management practices in India was just the beginning of new partnerships. One example was the delegation from South Sudan who asked for help with voter registration following the visit.

UNDP, on its part, has made clear it would be happy to expedite such processes of global learning and contribute towards ushering in more credible and accountable democratic practices.