FT article from 2014:
The potential voter is asked to swear over a religious artifact after receiving the money (bribe).
e.g. For Hindu voters, a plate with oil lamp, an idol, a mixture of auspicious powder is used.The voter should swear over it that they will vote for that particular candidate.
Elections are the main reason, politicians ensure religious superstitions flourish in India inspite of evil practices like casteism, sharia etc. Even when India's constitution is godless & secular (amended).
Thanks to really noble people behind India's constitution.
Let me answer the original question.
No one buys a vote in return of goodies. They buy "loyalty" vote is a consequence of that.
Each candidate appoints a booth level worker first. The booth level worker is in the inner circle of trust for the candidate and booth size is typically <1400 voters. Entire history of voting patterns of each booth is available publicly. A worker may handle multiple booths too.
The booth worker being a local already knows which way the winds are blowing and how to change their directions. For the poorest of poor he might offer cash and alcohol. For others he might offers government jobs, fake degrees, sex, licenses for businesses, shut eye approach towards illegal construction, protection from abusive husband and so on.
Once the voter buys in, he has to show absolute loyalty towards this candidate. He is expected to appear in rallies, at local speeches and even argue in favor of the candidate in market. Each person has enemies and in case Mr X appears to be saying unfavorable things in public someone will inform the booth level worker who will then show up at his house with goons.
You also need to understand secondary consequences of this sort of signaling. It means if a person was seen so actively working for Candidate X and if candidate Y wins, Candidate Y will not even help this person in future because obviously he was seen with Candidate X so often. (This can literally ruin people's lives from what I have seen). This also means there is zilch advantage for the person to backstab candidate X at the voting booth. (If you are married to her , you might as well have sex with her sort of thing). It is this phenomenon that eliminates back stabbing voters.
In my personal experience this soon reaches the level of lassie fair economics. At some point it pays lot more to simply sabotage the booth agent of your opponent instead of actually buying voters. If your prospective booth agent betrays you, you lose hundreds of votes. Just like voters even the booth agents are greedy. The candidate gives him lot of cash to distribute but sometimes he just keeps it to himself.
Part of the reason why BJP has done well in recent times despite spending less money than Congress is because BJP relies on its sister organization RSS which is a cadre based organization. They have pre-vetted individuals at every booth level whose loyalty is beyond doubt. The Congress party on other hand mostly relies on mercenary concept. They do a primary round of bidding where people who want their tickets tell how much money they can spend. The highest spender will then be given the ticket to fight elections. He has to donate 10% upfront to the party chief.
In my personal experience, with the exception of certain regions in most regions elections are pretty fair and are not determined by money. At least when it comes to Federal (central) elections. All candidates are aware of this fact. You might be able to gain additional 3% votes by sheer cash but you need to employ various other tactics to get more votes. As the middle class in India becomes larger and more aspirational the bids for votes change too. Even the poorest of poor now has electricity and hence correctly values 24x7 electricity above Rs 500 once in 5 years.
Could you please elaborate how after the booth agent is sabotaged, he changes the voters mindset or vote? I believe it is very difficult to actively do it i.e. tell the voters to vote for the opposite candidate. At the maximum it will be very passive i.e. he keeps the money to himself and simply not go to voters to work for his candidate.
Either the party worker has to be naive to believe that such ritual has any value or the people have to be completely stupid. Poor people are desperate and will happily take whatever money that comes their way and will not care too hoots about swearing on Gods. Remember if you can do a ritual to swear on God another one can invent a ritual to free you from that oath.
'Karnataka election 2018: Rider for freebies - swear in the name of god that you'd vote for me'
While there certainly is corruption, given the size and scale of elections in India, it is laudable that things are conducted in a proper manner for the large part.
By human nature, they get a sense of obligation when they receive the incentives. They feel committed to vote for the party that provided the incentive. Even trying to convince them they don't have to, does not work. They feel the onus is on them to complete the "transaction" by casting the vote.
That said, this is more of issue in by-elections, where there is only one or a handful of constituencies and the politicians can focus on them.
When the election is state-wide or nation-wide, the major determining factor is still the popular sentiment towards the political parties in question (based on their track record in power, which of course is skewed by media).
Further, political operators can at least guarantee that they went to the polls. This way, they can influence turnout.
This is why it is illegal to take pictures of your vote.
No one knows who you are once you're inside the voting booth :)
Then how do you know who they voted for?! :)
tldr A honest govt officer running a polling booth in an area under Naxal (communist separatists) influence grapples with corruption, deciet, hopelessness, manipulation, and hypocrisy.
I know zero about politics but... why don't citizens get presented a list of what each candidate supports, where there is overlap between candidates, and where there is disagreement?
Why do candidates need to "spread the message" and "go on tour" and "win people over" when we as citizens are supposed to, at the root, be voting on what policies they believe in (which seems concrete + fact, instead of something like leaving a wooing/lasting impression with a speech/appearance)
Who compiles that list, and on what information is it based?
> when we as citizens are supposed to, at the root, be voting on what policies they believe in
Well, for one thing, that's not what a lot of people (including the founders) think/thought voters are supposed to be voting on; representative democracy is not just a hack around the logistical impracticality of direct voting on all issues, but a means of selecting people with the skill and character to find good answers to questions that the electorate may not anticipate and most members would lack either the time or the skill to find a good answer even if they did have a direct vote.
A neutral third party (kind of like the federal reserve isn't supposed to be affiliated with any political party... or is this wildly inaccurate)
I'm pretty sure modern day politics are composed of 10-20 hard problems.
1. Providing quality of life for the poor/sick/elderly
1. Protecting citizens via military/war
1. Stances on drugs/drug related crimes
1. Economy wellness (stimulation/QE)
1. Energy/environment/climate change
1. Rights (gender, sexual preference, etc.)
> Well, for one thing, that's not what a lot of people (including the founders) think/thought voters are supposed to be voting on
Is that what you vote for? A politician is a figurehead in my eyes, and it is their job to carry out what they said they were going to (aka not change their policy after winning votes).
That assumes that citizens are supposed to be voting on policies. In our representative democracy, we vote on the people we want, not policies. The specific policies will be unrecognizable after they get through the process of political compromise. What people are really voting for is the person whose hand they want on the wheel.
Also, people vote for politicians based on how the politician makes the voter feel about themselves. Many many many people vote against their economic self interest with full understanding that they are doing so. There is a lot more to who someone votes for than their list of policy proposals.
Can you give me an example? Do you mean top earners voting for democrat because democrats are typically seen as more empathetic in society?
-will the candidate follow the policies they claim to support?
-How will the candidate vote on issues not explicitly mentioned in pre-election material?
-How well can the candidate advocate for their positions?
-Does the candidate have enough political clout to make a difference?
So you have to consider things like character, experience and party membership in addition to the talking points.
Candidates today who don't do this only run the risk of not being re-elected as their punishment, correct? Candidates aren't really held liable to their claims. What percentage of candidates end up having to flip stances on their claims due to external circumstances? What percentage of those claim stances get flipped?
> -How will the candidate vote on issues not explicitly mentioned in pre-election material?
Could we argue that 95% of issues could fall into 10-20 pillars and could be fleshed out up front? If not 95%, what percentage? It's impossible to forecast economic/environmental circumstances obviously (along with other countries having free will to do whatever they want, in context of military actions/reactions)
> How well can the candidate advocate for their positions?
Does this mean "how beefy is their resume/how qualified is the candidate"?
India could never be authoritarian for one simple reason its too damn diverse, a country that is contradictory to every definition of nation state exists because it has adopted democracy how ever imperfectly and mastered elections.
Don't get complacent. The man in power has never lost an election, so I don't know if he knows how to lose with grace. What's more, he has very authoritarian tendencies, like intimidating the press.
 - https://thewire.in/media/punya-prasun-bajpai-abp-news-narend...
The current government has not brought in any new laws or regulations on press. India never had the journalistic freedom like in west.
The opponent of current PM is a political royalty of India. They are the ones who dont know how to live without power. Indira Gandhi suspended Indian democracy and assumed the titled of dictator for few years when she lost an election. She also jailed many people including many political leaders that are still active today. Her son engaged in forced sterelizations and another son brought in a bill to kill the press called "defamation bill". Luckily it was repealed.
The current PM by far is a strict improvement on anyone we has seen in past.
The current PM came up with demonetization. Arguably the single worst idea in India's economic history since Tuglaq's copper coins. This is despite the central bank strongly advising against it. The RBI's governor even quit because of the government's meddling.
The current government decided to suppress inconvenient NSSO jobs data leading the head of the National Statistical Comission to quit in protest of the politicization of the institution.
The current government tried to take over control of independent tribunals by a backdoor 'money bill'. Thank goodness the Supreme Court put an end to that.
The central government acting through its appointed state governors has repeatedly tried to snatch power from opposition parties with democratically won majorities. The judiciary had to step in time and again to stop this.
The current government has lowered the standard of public discourse where any criticism of the government is immediately labelled 'Anti-National'. The government has shamelessly politicized military actions and is now resorting to jingoism to boost it's electoral prospects. Hell, a former chief minister was caught on camera admitting as much.
The authoritarian tendencies of the dear leader are as clear as day. But sure, please tell me how Modiji is bringing us all Achhe Din. Oh, wait. Even the BJP has stopped talking about Acche Din now.
But as far as authoritarianism and tyrannical attitude is concerned Modi does not even belong in the same league as congress party.
Congress party has done everything you have listed and lot more. Tell me if any Modi move comes even half close to what the Congress party did.
1. Took over 25% school capacity from all private schools and enforced severe restrictions in the form of RTE. This alone has closed down 10k + schools in India.
2. Created 100% exemption for Christians and Muslims run private/publicly funded schools from above point 1. They even went to amend Indian constitution (93rd) to create this blatantly bigoted scheme.
3. Congress create NGT National Green Tribunal. A body that reports, investigates and delivers punishment for anything related to environment, their decision can not be challenged in any court. Congress party has made millions through this body. I remember in a particular case where NGT fined this gentleman around Rs 3 crores for building water canals on his own private property. When his representative asked the NGT body "where is the evidence that I have done any harm to environment?" NGT simply stated that they need not provide any evidence at all.
> The central government acting through its appointed state governors has repeatedly tried to snatch power from opposition parties with democratically won majorities.
That is however is not at all true in even a single case. Using governors as thugs was Congress party's modus operandi and now being normalized. BJP government has not snatched any state from a majority party ever, not even once. Congress party on other hand has used their appointed Supreme Court judges to snatch Karnataka from BJP.
I am no fan of Narendra Modi, I personally dislike him for failing to undo the damage Congress party has done to Education related laws. But putting him in the bracket of "authoritarianism" is nothing but elitist snobbery. It is something that a convent educated cheese eating wine drinking socialite from Delhi or South Bombay might easily buy into but not an actually grassroot level worker.
With a population of 1.3 billion people and a voting age of 18, an astonishing 900 million Indians are eligible to vote. This is nearly double the entire population of the 28-country European Union, and triple that of the United States. Often, the electorate of a single state in India is as large as that of a country.
The ECI deploys over 11 million civilian and security personnel — greater than the population of 42 of the 50 states in the US— to ensure the elections run fairly and smoothly.
The sheer scale of an Indian election is rather remarkable though, as is the melodramatic buzz it generates throughout the country. It's an administrative marvel, especially when you consider the strangling bureaucracy that is rife in most Indian government departments.
I've read some thing about the primaries in the last US election, especially in the dems party. Wow, that was corruption to a whole new level. Also these primaries are (by design) super important to the US elections; too important to be so "unregulated" if you ask me.
Also, as far as I am aware, other than 1 district in Brooklyn whose votes were not counted in time in the Dem primary, there was hardly anything "corrupt" about either party's primary (and even that district went towards the winner anyways, and wouldn't have made a difference if every vote went in the opposite direction).
While not corrupt, or illegal, caucuses in US primaries are extremely undemocratic instruments, however, that is the exact opposite of what is considered the best method of voting in a democracy (secret ballot).
Yes, they are.
> They are private intra party affairs.
That wouldn't stop them from being elections, but primaries are public affairs carried out by the State. (Caucuses are more like you describe, but even they often have state involvement.)
> caucuses in US primaries
Caucuses are not in primaries, they are an alternative to them.
Are you familiar with U.S. elections? Caucuses are very much part of the primaries. They are how certain states perform their primaries. Iowa, for example.
> Caucuses are very much part of the primaries. They are how certain states perform their primaries.
No, caucuses are a (formerly, universally used—primaries are a newer thing) alternative to primaries still used in a minority of states (and sometimes, by some parties but not others in a state) to select delegates to Presidential nominating conventions.
Because primaries have over time displaced caucuses as the main candidate selection mechanism, and because the campaigns are somewhat nationalized, and because there isn't a handy name for the whole process, the whole national process of selecting such delegates is sometimes sloppily referred to as “the primary” of each party.
This is a disconnect on jargon. Primaries mean elections. Caucuses are an alternative to primaries. Both primaries and elections constitute the process by which American parties select delegates for their party conventions. The whole delegate-selection and convention assemblage is loosely referred to as the "primary" in the popular press.
Additionally, Bernie was _not_ a member of the Democratic party - he was an independent caucusing with the Democrats who chose to run as a Democrat. There a lots of good reasons for party members to not back a candidate who chose not to be a member and buy into their ideals until it was (potentially) advantageous for him to run as president.
Faults of a slow democracy are easy to see but benefits are not so much. You see move fast break things is not how you deal with people's life. The system is in place and it has immense constitution powers granted. Once the literacy increases so would the quality of candidates. If you look at ADR databases and compare it with regional GDP as well as educational levels you would see a clear trend towards a net positive.
The slop isn't as high as we would like it but it's positive and that's how democracies work.
Almost anything that India does, even marginally successfully, is done at a scale that is incomparable to anything in the world.
I visited Hyderabad and Chennai for work in 2018 for about three weeks. It’s certainly not a place I would want my family with me. The food in Hyderabad was amazing though, I’ll give them that.
There's no way you can evaluate how good/bad democracy is in any country, in 3 weeks.
Not sure how you took that to be any kind of judgement on India’s democracy.
I'm not sure what else you meant by that.
That being said, only China is willing to do things like build high speed rail lines to Urumqi and Lhasa that won't even cover the electricity costs of running the trains.
India may have a long way to go in aspects you have mentioned, but the way the Indian democracy works, it has enough checks and balances to make it work as intended, which IMO is among the best if not the best.
PS: I have worked at booth level before, during and after the elections in India, to know the intricacies of what happens during the whole process.
This is not an exageration anyone jumping in the train from their biggest cities will know.
not saying that progress has not been made. But calling India the best democracy is not factual worse it's a blatant lie. It is a country where you can (should) bribe public officials i.e: "A study conducted by Transparency International in 2005 recorded that more than 62% of Indians had at some point or another paid a bribe to a public official to get a job done"
I am from India, in India. You have only read about it, I live in it. Not saying the slums around railway lines are not there but the condition also has improved a lot. 2005? That's more than a decade back.
Democracy doesn't mean Utopia.
Feel free to disagree and say that India is not the best democracy on earth. But it'd sound credible if you can tell which country is the best democracy as per your data/facts/beliefs, and probably share that too.
The problem is the generalization-stated-as-fact that the second point tries to make: there are all kinds of things (e.g. building transit networks and power grids) that other countries do that are definitely on a comparable scale to India's efforts.
Also elections in India are pretty much rigged especially because of people buying votes.
If EVMs are to be used, an auditable paper trail is necessary.
Hopefully the Election Commission will audit a representative sample of locations to prevent any irregularities.
That said, threat models keep evolving. As EVMs are now used, one needs to incorporate EVM manipulation in the threat model as well.
The way to stay ahead of these threat models is to have an open, transparent process. A simple way to do that is to publish the design spec of the EVMs, and any source code. Invite audit from the world. Hiding it away is just "security by obscurity", which is well-known in the security community as not being good practice.
The folks in charge of making decisions don't understand security. I'm not criticising them, it's quite reasonable that a layman would think that security by obscurity works.
They also (viewed from a distance) seem to ignore people who talk about security without talking about threat models.
Security by obscurity seems to be very nearly irrelevant to the Indian Electoral Commission's security model. Security by obscurity is bad, of course, but in that model it's such a minor factor. If I were the commission I'd file people who disregard the threat model and talk about minor factors under "b" for "bikeshedders".
I wish that was not the case, though, and its up to us as the tech community to educate our policymakers.