India Elects 14th President Using Ranked Choice Voting

Posted by Myeisha Boyd on July 21, 2017

Yesterday, July 20, Ram Nath Kovind was elected as the 14th President of India. President Kovind received 65.65% of the total vote, which secured a massive margin over his rival Meira Kumar who received 34.35%. The winner is selected through a system known as proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote (STV). Proportional representation ensures equal representation to all groups because it allows voters to mark their voting preferences rather than choosing just one candidate. Votes are never wasted because if your first choice candidate does not win, your second choice is counted and it’s an instant run off until someone wins a majority of the votes.

Ranked choice voting (RCV) allows voters to rank their choices in order of preference. Because there were only two candidates in this election, however, RCV was not a factor-- although if more than two had run, it would have ensured the winner  received more than 50 percent of the vote of the vote in the final round.

India uses a formula that relies on both the Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and the Members of Parliament (MP) to determine the winner of the election. Indian citizens first cast their votes based on their preference, then based on those votes the MLA and MP elect the president.

The vote of the MLA is calculated by State Population/ (1000 x total number of MLA’s). The vote of the MP is calculated by dividing the total value of votes of all MLA’s across the whole country by the total number of elected MP’s. Unlike the United States’ electoral college system, the Indian electoral college is not bound to vote a certain way. The way that the 2017 election was conducted in India revealed how strong the democracy is as a whole.

President Kovind is recognized as a Dalit, which at one point was known as the “untouchables,” people who come from the lower castes in India. He is the second Dalit president elected in India. The New York Times reported that this is a rare achievement-- The Dalit’s were once recognized as the most “deprived groups in India.” As President Kovind addressed the nation after his win, he said, “my win should prove that even honest people can get ahead in life.” Kovind represents hard working people, such as farm workers and the poor. Many people are celebrating his win. Kovind also mentioned that his election reflects the greatness of Indian Democracy in his victory election.

Being that India is the world’s largest democracy, they have set an example for why RCV is an important first step to empowering voters; by giving them more choice and more representation in elections.

Photo Credit: Hindustantimes

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