Fri., May 16, 2014 1:00pm (EDT)

How Do You Count 500 Million Votes? A Look At India's Election
By Camila Domonoske
Updated: 2 months ago

Indian election workers learn to use and check electronic voting machines on May 11.
Indian election workers learn to use and check electronic voting machines on May 11.
Parliamentary elections in the world's largest democracy ended on Friday. The election took six weeks; more than 800 million citizens were eligible to vote.

Photos from the election make it clear that, as NPR's Julie McCarthy reported earlier this week, an election that massive requires a lot of logistical planning. Nearly 1 million voting stations, each featuring electronic voting machines, were set up. It's not just a problem of numbers there's also the question of terrain and transportation, as McCarthy explains:

Former Chief Election Commissioner Quraishi authored An Undocumented Wonder: The Making of the Great Indian Election and he says no effort is spared to reach the hundreds of millions with ballots, even it it takes elephants, camels, boats, planes or trains.

"You name it, and that is the transport we're using. And there are some places where none of these transports will go, then polling teams have to walk."

He says not even the lone priest living in a lion-infested forest will be left without a voting booth.

In the results announced Friday, the Bharatiya Janata Party won in a landslide and its leader, Narendra Modi, is virtually certain to become prime minister.


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