Voting: Rules of the Game

A very common misconception about voting rights is that one should have resided in a city or place for at least 3-5 years in order to be eligible to vote in that constituency. This misconception has led to a mindset among the youth to keep their names in the voting list of the city they were born in or the one in which their parents reside. This commonly prevalent notion prevents them from voting because most of the times they are either in their college or at their workplace.  We need to have a better understanding of the rules for registration in a Voters List of any constituency. Let’s take a look.

Am I eligible to vote?

You are eligible to vote if you fit into the following criteria:

  1. You are an Indian Citizen
  2. You are 18 years or older as on 1st January of the year when the electoral rolls are getting prepared.
  3. You are an Ordinary Resident at your current location i.e. you have been living at your current address for 6 months or longer.

If I move to a new city, can I vote from there?

Yes, if you have lived there for a period of 6 months.

I have turned 18 but you are in your college/hostel. Can I vote?

Yes. As a student, you can register from your college even if you are studying outside your native city / place of permanent residence.

This is the exact rule of Election Commission of India:

“Students, if otherwise eligible, living in a hostel or mess or lodge more or less continuously, going back to his normal home or place of residence only for short periods, can be held to be ordinarily resident in the place where the hostel or mess or lodge is situated. However, if they so wish, they have the option of retaining their enrollment at their residence with their parents instead. [During intensive revision, students shall not be enumerated at their hostels. They shall be enrolled subsequently on application in Form 6 with bonafide student and hostel resident certificate].”

If you are residing in a hostel / mess and do not have an ordinary address proof document, you will have to get a Student Declaration Form signed by your college dean/principal/registrar and submit it along with your voter registration form. (Format of Declaration; open this in a new tab)

You are also allowed to register from your parent’s place of residence; however you CANNOT register from two or more addresses simultaneously. It is always advisable though that you register from your college, since you will spend most of the time in the year at this place.

I have my name in the Voter List of my native place. How can I register as a voter from my college?

First, you need to apply to get your name deleted from the voter list of your native place. You can login to and fill the form to do that.

Alternatively, you can ask your parents to ask the BLO (Block Level Officer) to delete your name. Ideally, it should get deleted when voter list is being revised and you are not present at your address. But, they confirm all names of a family after talking to an elder member.

Secondly, you have to apply for inclusion of your name to the Voter List of the constituency where your college/hostel/lodge/mess falls.

How many times can I apply for deletion/addition to Voters List of different places?

There is no restriction on the number of times. You can do this as many times your place of residence changes.

Why should I take the pain and do this every time I shift to a different city?

You don’t need to do this every time you shift to a new city. All you should do is that, if any sort of elections are approaching (General/State), you should apply for registering your name in the voters list 2-4 months prior to that.

It’s not a very time-taking process. You can fill the form at and upload some scanned documents. You receive an SMS regarding your appointment with an officer (ERO).

When you visit him/her, he verifies your documents and residence proof and adds your name.  In some cities like Bangalore, you only need to send a copy of original documents to the ERO by post and not even visit the office.

It does not take a lot of time or effort  on one’s part to complete this process. The Election Commission is simplifying the process every year to attract young voters. It is only because of our ignorance/laziness that political parties are able to carry out their typical caste-based campaign instead of an issue-based campaign.

We talk about politics, we discuss it on Facebook and Twitter, we write blogs and have debates in hostel rooms/mess table, but we don’t go out and Vote and all that discussion turns into a pile of intellectual rubbish . The traditional politicians have obviously figured out that it is the middle-aged and old voters that need to be tapped and not youths or college going students. Consider the population of college going students who do not live in their native places and so, do not go to vote; it is more than a million voters. Most of the students do not vote.

I think it is a great opportunity missed if you turned 18 and you had the chance to vote but you didn’t. You did not exercise one of the very first rights you get when you turn adult-the right to vote!

Not only students; most of the young professionals working in NCR/Bangalore/Hyderabad/ Mumabi/Pune etc. do not vote. They can vote if they are aware about the right rules and they understand the need to exercise their vote. If you start voting, they will have to think about your issues.

Why is opening a startup so easy and convenient in Singapore and not India? Many Indian youngsters have shifted to Singapore to run their start-ups because of lenient taxation and the support from the government there. Our politicians would worry about these issues only when you vote. They would change their agenda as you begin to vote. Because then you would matter to them.

Only you can make yourself matter. So go on and make yourself matter. Vote.

PS. For those who are above the age of 18 and don’t have a Voter ID yet, don’t forget to celebrate National Voters day on 25th January, 2015.

Of Bills and Acts

A lot of people struggle with the difference between Bills and Acts. A few even use them interchangeably. We’ll resolve that in this post.

So, what is a Bill?

The draft of legislative proposal presented before either House of the Parliament is called a Bill.

And what is an Act?

A bill, once passed by both Houses and approved by the President becomes an Act.

What does ‘passed by both Houses’ mean?

When a bill is first presented in a House of Parliament (Lower or Upper), it goes through three readings:

First reading (Introduction): The bill is introduced. Only the main features and principles are read. That is all.

Second reading (Detailed discussion/Amendments): Principles are read again, the bill can be referred to a Standing Committee if a report on some clauses of the bill is felt needed, clause by clause discussion over the bill takes place and amendments may be made (by a simple majority of the members present and voting).

Third reading (voting): The bill is voted upon. If it is passed, it goes to the other House, where the same procedure, as mentioned above, is followed. If there is an equal number of people both for and against the bill, then the Speaker of the House (who does not normally participate in voting) gets to cast their (deciding) vote. If the number of votes against the bill are more than the number for it, the bill is defeated. And the bill ‘dies’.

Hmm. And what if the bill is passed in one House and defeated in the other House? That can happen, right?

It sure can! This is called a deadlock. In this case, the President can summon a joint session presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the deadlock is resolved by a simple majority. In such a case, the stance of the Lok Sabha usually prevails, since it has a larger (almost double) number of members.

And it has happened earlier. Three times, to be exact. The most recent one was in the year 2002, with the Prevention of Terrorist Activities (POTA) Act. The bill was defeated in the Rajya Sabha after being passed in the Lok Sabha. It was then passed in the Joint Session.

Cool! And what exactly does President’s approval mean?

The President’s assent/approval is the final part of converting a bill into an Act. If the President gives his assent, the bill becomes an Act. It is published in the Gazette of India and becomes an Act from the date of assent of the President.

And what if he doesn’t?

Well, in that case (which is called pocket veto), the bill goes back to the Parliament for reconsideration. The key point here is, however, that if, after reconsideration, the bill is again passed by both Houses of the Parliament, then the President must give his assent.

After all, the President is just a nominal head. The people’s representatives have the real power. Which in turn means that the people have the real power.

But the people aren’t kept informed of all the content of the bill while it is being converted to an Act, are they?

Of course they are! It’s a people’s government! Once the bill is introduced (first reading), it is published in the official gazette of the House to inform the people and get a democratic opinion on the bill. During the second reading too (before and after amendments), the bill is constantly circulated for the opinion of the general public.

Okay. One last question: when does an Act…umm…’start working’?

Haha. The phrase you’re looking for is ‘come into force‘. Or even more precisely: when an Act becomes the law.

An Act comes into force in the manner written in the Act itself (pretty circular logic, eh?), and as notified in the Gazette of India. It either comes into force the day the president gives it his assent or on some pre-decided date mentioned in the Act itself or on a date set by the Central/State Government.

Publishing an Act in the Gazette of India is the only officially established way to inform the public of a new law. Mind you, once this happens, the Act becomes enforceable by law. In other words, you cannot plead ignorance of it after the Act has been published in the Gazette of India. So we suggest that you get a copy.