Context: As the US election verdict remains inconclusive with key swing states still individually counting votes, there is the need to look at how the world’s oldest democracy counts their votes.

Comparative study - India and US Presidential election:


India (Parliamentary)

USA (Presidential)

  • Elected head of Government: Prime Minister. 
    • He is the executive head.
    • Citizens cast their vote to elect their representatives to the Lok Sabha. 
    • The party that wins a majority of seats in the Lok Sabha gets invited by the President to form the government.
    • The leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister.
    • Elections to the Lok Sabha are held every five years generally.
  • Constitutional head of state: The President.
    • Article 52: There shall be a President of India.
    • Article 53:The executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President.
  • Head of State: President.
    • Citizens cast their ballot in every state to elect members of the electoral college (popular vote) who in turn cast electoral votes to determine the President.
  • The President holds office for a four-year term.





The President must:

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

No person shall be eligible for election as President unless he

  • Is a citizen of India;
  • Has completed the age of thirty-five years, and
  • Is qualified for election as a member of the House of the People.


  • In the US, Vice-President must also meet all of the qualifications of being a President.
  • In India, the President can also be a naturalized citizen
  • In the US, a person can be the president for only two terms (Each term - 4 years). But there is no such bar in India.



US (Primaries and Caucuses):

  • A number of candidates from each party announce their candidacy more than a year before Election Day. 
  • Among them one candidate is chosen from each party by the nominating process conducted by each party.
  • It currently consists of two major parts
    • A series of presidential primary elections and caucuses held in each state &  
    • The presidential nominating conventions held by each political party.
  • The primary elections are run by state and local governments where party members gather to vote through a secret ballot for the best candidates.
  • Caucuses are private meetings run by political parties. 
    • At the end of the primaries and caucuses in each state, the numbers of delegates allocated to the state are divided among the candidates according to their vote share. 
  • These delegates choose the party’s Presidential Candidate on the convention day. The chosen presidential candidate also chooses a vice presidential nominee to run with him or her on the same ticket.
  • A delegate is a person chosen by the people from each state to vote on their behalf to choose the nominee. These delegates are chosen by Primaries and Caucuses.
  • This system was never included in the US Constitution and thus evolved over time by the political parties.

India: 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.



US (Indirect Election)

India (Indirect Election)

  • Article Two of the United States Constitution originally established the method of presidential elections, including the Electoral College. 
  • The voters do not directly elect the president. Instead, they elect representatives called "electors", who usually pledge to vote for particular presidential and vice presidential candidates. (Similar to the delegates in the primary elections).
  • The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of members of Congress to which the state is entitled. 
  • Also, most state laws establish a winner-take-all system. 
  • This sometimes leads to a situation where a candidate who fails to get a popular vote wins, if he wins all the big states with a large number of electors.

Article 54: The President shall be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of 

  1. The elected members of both Houses of Parliament; and
  2. The elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States. Explanation: “State” includes the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union territory of Pondicherry.

Article 55: Manner of Election

  1. As far as practicable, there shall be uniformity in the scale of representation of the different States at the election of the President.
  2. The election of the President shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.





  • Directly organised by the ruling governments of individual states: The US Constitution and laws grant the states wide latitude in how they administer all elections (federal, state, and local), 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.
  • Article 324: In India, the Constitution of India provides for a separate rule-making Election Commission of India (ECI) that is independent of the executive in government. 
    • The ECI was set up in 1950 and 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.
  • ECI - An apolitical body: Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar (chairman of the drafting committee), while introducing Article 324 in the Constituent Assembly said that 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.


  • Election Day: An election for President of the United States occurs every four years on Election Day, held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. 
  • Inauguration Day: Each state's winning set of electors then meets at their respective state's capital in December to cast their electoral votes on separate ballots for President.

Source: India Today