If you haven’t decided whom to vote for in the upcoming election for the next President of India – to be held on July 17 – don’t worry. Unless you’re an MP or an MLA, you don’t get to vote. Unlike most of India’s elected representatives, who must battle it out for citizens’ votes, the President of India is instead chosen by an electoral college. The electoral college comprises the elected members of the Parliament (MPs) and state legislative assemblies (MLAs). Nominated members are, like the rest of us, unable to vote. There are 4,986 electors in the electoral college: 4,120 MLAs and 776 MPs. In normal elections, everyone’s vote is counted equally. In a presidential election, however, electors’ votes are worth more or less depending upon their job titles. In general, MPs’ votes are worth more than MLAs’, and MLAs from bigger states count more than those from smaller ones. The total value adds to10,98,903.
First, in order to uphold the principle of federalism, neither the Union government nor the state assemblies, taken together, should be able to overrule each other. So, the combined value of all the MPs’ votes is roughly equal to the combined value of all the MLAs’.
Each MP’s vote contributes 708 points to the pool, but the value of MLAs’ votes depend on their state. That’s because of the second guiding principle: the value of each MLA’s vote should be proportional to the number of citizens he or she represents.