The Rajya Sabha elections for 16 states covering 58 seats of the 245-member House is currently underway. Here’s an explainer on the voting process and the arithmetic involved:
Unlike the Lok Sabha, members of the Upper House are not directly elected by the public but by elected representatives of states and Union Territories. The allocation of seats for Rajya Sabha is made on the basis of the population of each state. Allowing for rank-based voting, the election follows the “system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote”, which basically means that the single vote cast by an MLA is transferable from one candidate to another — in two scenarios.
One is when a candidate obtains more than what is required for their win and therefore has an unnecessary surplus and the other is when a candidate polls so few votes that they have absolutely no chance. In both the cases, the votes are transferred so that there is no wastage.
Here’s how the election process works
The ballot paper bears the names of the candidates and the MLA marks his preferences for the candidates with the figures 1,2,3,4 and so on against the names chosen by him and this marking is understood to be alternative in the order indicated. The candidate that gets rank 1 from an MLA secures a “first preference” vote. In order to win, any candidate requires a specific number of such “first preference votes”. This number depends on the strength of the state Assembly and the number of MPs it sends to Rajya Sabha. To win a Rajya Sabha seat, a candidate should get a required number of votes which is known as quota or preference vote = [Total number of votes/(Number of Rajya Sabha seats + 1)] + 1.
So for instance in case of Uttar Pradesh Rajya Sabha elections, the preference vote can be calculated using the above-mentioned formula.
Preference vote = ([403/(10+1)]+1) = 37 votes. Read more here.
Now, at an election where only one seat is to be filled, every ballot paper is deemed to be of the value of one at each count and the quota is calculated by dividing the total number of votes by two and adding one to the quotient, ignoring the remainder, if any.
However, the formula changes in case more than one seat needs to be filled. The total number of votes required for a candidate in the case is [(Number of votes x 100) / (Vacancies + 1)] + 1.
There are certain conditions when a ballot paper is deemed invalid. These include figure 1 not being marked or if figure 1 is assigned to the names of more than one candidate or is placed in a confusing manner. Other reasons include assigning two figures to one candidate or if there is any mark or writing by which the elector can be identified.