Lok Sabha 2024: Voter guide to help you vote in this election

This explainer has all the information one needs about voter registration, voting process and other rules for polling day.

How do you check if your name is on the electoral rolls? How do you locate your polling booth? Who are the candidates in your constituency? Can you still vote if you don’t have a voter ID card? Follow the Citizen Matters voters guide for quick answers to these questions and more.

Election of the 18th Lok Sabha will be conducted in seven phases in all starting April 19 and ending on June 1 2024. Counting of votes is scheduled on June 4.

In this mammoth and most challenging exercise in the world’s most populous democracy, it is crucial for every citizen to go out and vote. A high voter turnout puts the onus on elected representatives to discharge their duties and be held accountable for their action and inaction during their time in office.

Some of you may still have questions about various procedures related to voting. Here’s a quick guide from us that will answer most of your doubts and empower you as a voter.

How do I know if I can cast my vote?

Your name must be present in the electoral rolls for you to be able to cast your vote this election. To check this, visit the National Voters’s Service Portal https://voters.eci.gov.in/ .

Using the Elector’s Photo Identity Card (EPIC) number on your voter ID card, you can search for your name on the rolls. You can search your name with your mobile number as well. 

If you do not possess a Voter ID card, you can search by name. Once you locate your name on the rolls, ensure that you note down the booth address, part number and serial number.

If you do not find your name on the electoral rolls, it may not be too late just yet. You can fill out Form 6 to register as a voter if the last date has not passed and you may still be able to exercise your right to vote.

For example, in Mumbai the last date for voter registration is April 23rd, and voting will happen on May 20. “Voter list is continuously updated till the last date of filing of nominations by the candidate,” says the ECI.

How do I locate my Parliamentary Constituency and polling booth?

You can use open source tools such as  https://www.electionmap.in/ to be able to find out more details about your constituency.

You will be able to locate your Parliamentary constituency and the location of the polling booth by looking up your name on https://electoralsearch.eci.gov.in/. Alternatively, you can also locate your polling booth here https://electoralsearch.eci.gov.in/pollingstation 

sample voter roll
A sample voter roll where you can identify the booth and part number. Credit: Million Voter Rising

How can I find about the candidates in my constituency?

A prudent voter must do thorough research on the candidates contesting in their constituency to make an informed decision. A full list of candidates contesting in the elections is available on the website of the respective state election commissions. The list will provide access to the affidavits submitted by the candidates that will provide details about criminal cases against them, their assets, education and occupation.

Do read our election coverage for periodic updates and information on key urban constituencies and the candidates and incumbent Members of Parliament.

Websites such as http://www.myneta.info/ and https://www.prsindia.org/mptrack also provide a wealth of information on prospective candidates and incumbents who may be contesting for re-election.

Read more: Voters’ dilemma: How to choose your MP?

Can I vote if I do not have a Voter ID card?

You will be able to cast your vote as long as your name is present in the electoral rolls. If you do not possess a Voter ID, other forms of photo ID are accepted. The following are the 12 accepted IDs by the Election Commission.

  • Passport
  • Driving License
  • Service Identity Cards with photograph issued to employees by Central/State Govt PSUs/Public Limited Companies
  • Passbooks with photograph issued by Bank/Post Office
  • PAN Card
  • Smart Card issued by RGI under NPR
  • MNREGA Job Card
  • Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of Ministry of Labour
  • Pension document with photograph
  • Authenticated Photo Voter Slip issued by the election machinery
  • Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs
  • Aadhaar Card

Overseas voters must carry their original passport for identification as other documents are not accepted. Carrying any of the above should be sufficient so long as you are already registered to vote.

What is the process inside the polling station?

Most polling booths open at 7am and though the voting official closes at 6 pm, voting may continue in booths where a large number of voters are gathered or if the time is extended at the discretion of the presiding officer.

illustration of step by step guide in a polling booth
The process followed inside a polling booth. Pic: Nikita Vashisth

As Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will be in use this election, the voter can verify if their vote has indeed been recorded correctly. The voter will be able to see the name of the candidate for whom they have cast their vote on the VVPAT machine. The screen of the VVPAT machine will show the vote cast for seven seconds before a slip is printed and dropped into the VVPAT’s collection box.

What is the Model Code of Conduct?

The Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India that are applicable to all contestants and parties. The rules laid down pertain to campaigning, speeches, rallies, polling day, polling booth and manifestos.

The full set of guidelines can be accessed here.

How can I report, if I witness any violations?

Citizens can report violations of the Model Code of Conduct by using an exclusive app launched by the Election Commission of India, cVigil. More details on the app can be found https://voters.eci.gov.in/ 

Violations can also be emailed to complaints@eci.gov.in

Is the Election Commission active on social media?

The Election Commission of India is active on social media and is also conducting special awareness drives for first time voters. Here are the important handles for finding recent updates or even to reach out to them.

If a majority of voters choose NOTA, will there be a re-election?

The NOTA (None Of The Above) option is used by voters to indicate their dissatisfaction with candidates in the fray in their constituency. However, at present, there is no provision for re-election even if NOTA gets the highest number of votes.

The Representation of the People Act in its current form states that the election goes to the candidate “to whom the largest number of valid votes have been given.” This rule must be amended in order to conduct repolls, if NOTA gains more votes.

Can Non Resident Indians vote?

Non-resident Indians are eligible to vote provided they hold a valid Indian passport and are of 18 years of age. They must register as an overseas voter to cast their vote.

The ECI website has detailed instructions about registration and exercising your right as an NRI voter. Following are some important pointers mentioned by the ECI.

  • No person can be enrolled on more than one electoral roll i.e. when you enrol as a overseas voter you have to submit a declaration – that you did not get enrolled as a general elector
  • If you are registered as a general voter, you should surrender your EPIC along with submission of Form 6A
  • When you return to India you can register as general elector at your place of ordinary residence
  • Please remember that you have only one vote. Accordingly you should not vote for more than one candidate

You can download Form 6A from here.

Are there any facilities for persons with disabilities at polling booths?

The Election Commission of India recognises persons who have “one among the 21 disabilities as mentioned by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016” as voters with disabilities.

They try to ensure facilities in a polling booth such as signage, help desk, polling booths on the ground floor, ramp, braille ballot guide and braille EVMs, accessible restrooms and drinking water facilities.

Additionally, voters with disabilities can pre-book wheelchairs and guides a day prior to polling day for assured availability of facilities. Some constituencies also offer transport facilities and separate parking space.

Is it possible to vote from home for senior citizens and persons with disabilities?

Yes. This time, there is a provision for senior citizens above 85 years of age and persons with 40% and above disabilities to vote from home. All the information regarding voting from home can be accessed here.

(Inputs by Prachi Pinglay-Plumber.)

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