India is a federation with a parliamentary system governed under the Constitution of India, which defines the power distribution between the union, or central, government and the states.
The President of India is the ceremonial head of state,who is elected indirectly for a five-year term by an electoral college comprising members of national and state legislatures.
The Prime Minister of India is the head of government and exercises most executive power. Appointed by the president,the prime minister is by convention supported by the party or political alliance having a majority of seats in the Lok Sabha or lower house of parliament.
The Election Commission of India is an autonomous entity prescribed in the Constitution of India. It is the federal authority responsible for administering all the electoral processes of India and ensuring they are free and fair.
Elections are conducted according to constitutional provisions and parliamentary legislation. These include the Representation of the People Act, 1950, which mainly deals with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls, and the Representation of the People Act, 1957 which deals, in detail, with all aspects of the conduct of elections and post-election disputes. The Supreme Court of India has held that where the enacted laws are silent or make insufficient provision to deal with a given situation in the conduct of elections, the Election Commission has the residuary powers under the Constitution to act in an appropriate manner.
From 1947 to 16 October 1989, there was one Chief Election Commissioner. From 1989 to 1 January 1990, there were two commissioners. In 1990 of January, two chief commissioners were abolished and election commission acted as a single-member body. Again by The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1993 made the Election Commission a multi-member body. On 1 October 1993, a further two commissioners were appointed. Decisions are made by majority vote.
On 27 September 2013, the Supreme Court of India judged that citizens have the right to a negative vote by exercising a “None of the above” (NOTA) option. This was the result of petitioning from the Electoral Commission and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties from 2009. In November 2013, NOTA was introduced in five state elections.
India does not provide general absentee voting. On 24 November 2010, the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2010 was gazetted to give voting rights to non-resident Indians but a physical presence at the voting booth is still required