IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 9th Nov 2020
“Dream big and dare to fail.” – Norman Vaughan
EDITORIAL HUNT #232 :“Election Commission of India (ECI) vs Federal Election Commission of U.S. | UPSC”
Navin B. Chawla
Election Commission of India (ECI) vs Federal Election Commission of U.S. | UPSC
Navin B. Chawla is a former Chief Election Commissioner of India , the biographer of Mother Teresa, and the author of ‘Every Vote Counts’
Turning the spotlight on America’s election custodian
In its functioning, the U.S. Federal Election Commission has a much narrower mandate than its Indian equivalent
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : Election
What are the differences between Election Commission of India and Federal Election Commissioner of America. Also throw light on Powers of Election Commissioner of India -(GS 2)
- Fake claims
- Powers of Election Commission of India
- A Comparison
- Accepting the change
- FAKE CLAIMS : There have been cliffhanger moments when State results were declared, interspersed with premature announcements claiming victory.
- A LEGALITY CHECK : Legal meanderings have occasionally rendered some moments in the election process of arguably the most powerful nation on earth as the theatre of the absurd.
- ELITE MEDIA : Yet, no commentator, anchor or the clutch of experts that gather around Federal Election Commissioners.
POWERS OF ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA
- REMOVAL PROCEDURE : The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only by Parliamentary impeachment.
- ELECTORAL ROLLS : The Election Commission prepares, maintains and periodically updates the Electoral Rolls, which show who is entitled to vote.
- CAMPAIGN AND REGISTRATION : EC also supervises the nomination of candidates, registers political parties, monitors the election campaign, including the funding and exponential by candidates.
- MEDIA COVERAGE : It also facilitates the coverage of the election process by the media and looks after the counting of votes and the declaration of results.
- FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS : All this is done to ensure that elections can take place in an orderly and fair manner.
- CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE : In India, our constitutional fathers had debated in the Constituent Assembly itself the necessity of imbuing the ECI with enormous power.
- INDEPENDENCE OF ECI : Indeed, so vast are the powers accorded to the ECI during the election process that even the higher judiciary does not interfere during the course of the election process.
- RECOGNITION : For a start, the Federal Election Commission has a much narrower mandate than its Indian equivalent.
- ESTABLISHMENT : Moreover, the Federal Election Commission was established comparatively recently — it ‘opened its doors’ in 1975, with the special mandate to regulate campaign finance issues.
- ELECTORAL FUNDING : As a watchdog, it is meant to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the law regarding campaign contributions, and oversee public funding of the presidential election.
- TOTAL COMMISSIONERS : The Federal Election Commission is led by six Commissioners.
- APPOINTMENT : The six posts of Commissioner are supposed to be equally shared by Democrats and Republicans, and too have to be confirmed by the Senate.
- VACANT SEATS : But at the time of this most critical presidential election, there are vacancies.
- FUNCTIONING : In fact the Commission has hardly been able to function in the last year because of resignations, with the result that barring a brief two months, from May to July this year.
- DELIBERATIONS AND DECISIONS : The Commission has effectively passed no orders at all since August 2019, because it has lacked a quorum — for which at least four members are needed.
- PENDING CASES : As a result, several hundred matters lie pending before the Federal Election Commission for want of members.
- INDIAN ELECTION PETITIONS : In sharp contrast, our Constitution’s fathers decided to limit the role of the judiciary in India to the post-election period, when election petitions may be filed.
- AVOIDING DELAY : These delays and the acrimony, so adroitly avoided in India during the election process, is precisely what we are seeing now in the U.S.
WIDENING POSTAL BALLOTS BASE
- POSTAL BALLOT IN U.S : In the 2016 U.S. election, almost a quarter of the votes counted arose from postal and early balloting.
- POSTAL BALLOTS IN INDIA : In India we have confined postal ballots to only a few categories, of largely government staff as well as the police or armed forces.
- WIDENING THE BASE : In these difficult times of the novel coronavirus pandemic, we need to widen this base to include all senior citizens and anyone else who may find it convenient to cast their vote early.
- FINAL VERDICT : Wherever the final verdict has angered a section of voters, Opposition parties protest for weeks and months by sitting on dharna, often blocking whole avenues.
- SHARP CONTRAST : Ever since our first election in 1951-2 and every single election since, our political parties, losers and winners alike, have invariably accepted the results declared by the ECI.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Election Commission of India (ECI) vs Federal Election Commission of U.S. | UPSC