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Insights into Editorial: How the US counts its votes in the presidential election




U.S. Constitutional Requirements for Presidential Candidates:

The President must:

  1. Be a natural-born citizen of the United States
  2. Be at least 35 years old
  3. Have been a resident of the United States for 14 years

He/She must meet the age and residency requirements by Inauguration Day. Any person who meets these requirements can declare his or her candidacy for President at any time. Vice-President must also meet all of the qualifications of being a President.

But in India, President can also be a naturalized citizen. Also, a candidate to be nominated for the office of president needs 50 electors as proposers and 50 electors as seconders for his name to appear on the ballot.

In the US, a person can be the president for only two terms. But there is no such bar in India.

How are elections supervised in the US?

In the US, all elections federal, state, and local are directly organised by the ruling governments of individual states.

According to the White House website, the US Constitution and laws grant the states wide latitude in how they administer elections, resulting in varying rules across the country.

In many US states, the responsibility of conducting elections falls on the state’s secretary of state — a politician who in some states is directly elected and in others appointed by the state governor.

How is the election process different from India?

  1. In India, the Constitution under Article 324 provides for a separate rule-making Election Commission that is independent of the executive in government.
  2. Set up in 1950, it is charged with the responsibility of conducting polls to the offices of the President and Vice President of India, to Parliament, and to the state Assemblies and Legislative Councils.
  3. In India, the ECI has been devised as an apolitical body a key priority of the country’s founding leaders.
  4. So, US states vary widely when it comes to key electoral practices such as vote counting, postal voting and drawing constituencies.
  5. Often, individual states are accused of providing an unfair advantage to one political party through practices such as gerrymandering.
  6. During the Jim Crow era (late 19th century-early 20th century), states in the American South actively disenfranchised Black people– a practice that was largely curbed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Why counting votes in Election 2020 is taken time?

Although most US states allow electronic methods, paper ballots are the norm across the country.

Ahead of counting comes a stage called processing, which involves checking signatures, verifying documentation, and perhaps even scanning the ballots. Counting votes is a separate, and later, process.

Each state has its own date for starting in-person or mail-in voting, deadline for receiving the mail-in ballots, processing the ballots, and tabulating votes.

USA and India Election procedure:

The USA and India are two largest democracies of the world, but they have a slightly common and a little comparable election system:

  1. ELECTORAL METHOD: USA appointed its head of the govt indirectly while India appoints its head of the government directly through people.
  2. ELECTORAL TIME: USA gives almost 13 hours for each person to vote either in appearance or through email while India allows a time of around 9 hours and that too only through appearing at the designation point.
  3. HANDLING ELECTIONS: The elections of USA are handles by the Federal EC and Electoral AC both of which are not having enough powers like India’s ECI which has the sole responsibility of handing elections.
  4. REGISTRATIONS: The people of USA has the options to registered at last by 1 month before the polling day while in India every person is registered above a certain age and there is no need to register them again and again in ever elections.
  5. VOTING AGE: The voting age has been fixed at 18 years in both the countries however proportion of people voting b/w the age of 18-25 years is more in India than in USA.
  6. POLLING STATION STAFF: The staff of the polling station in USA may be private or public property however in India it is a govt office.


Trump’s 2016 election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton threw up a number of uncertainties for India.

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS: The first was how closed or open the US would be on matters of trade, immigration, investment, and technology.

APPROACH TOWARDS CHINA: The second concerned what approach he would adopt to China: confrontation, competition, cooperation, or confusion.

TERRORISM: The third uncertainty was how he would approach the issue of terrorism, particularly with respect to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: And the fourth was what priority he would give to international institutions, and what that would mean for Indian membership and activity.


Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, while introducing Article 324 in the Constituent Assembly on June 15, 1949, said, “the whole election machinery should be in the hands of a Central Election Commission, which alone would be entitled to issue directives to returning officers, polling officers and others”.

Former Union minister Milind Deora tweeted, saying: “We Indians should be proud of our Election Commission for overseeing 650 parties, 8,000 candidates & 603 million voters in 2019!”