815M Voters Begin World's Biggest Election

India's vast electorate goes to the polls in month-long exercise
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2014 9:35 AM CDT
815M Voters Begin World's Biggest Election
An elderly Indian woman watches as she stands in a queue to cast her vote during the first phase of elections in Dibrugarh, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Monday, April 7, 2014.   (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

An Indian electorate some 814.5 million strong is preparing to cast ballots in the world's biggest democratic election. Beginning in the northeast, the country will vote for its next leadership over the course of several weeks, with polls closing May 12, the New York Times reports. The vote count comes May 16. The current governing party, the Indian Congress Party, has been in power for 10 years. But right now, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party appears set to win—if polls are correct—making this election potentially historic, the Times notes.

The middle class, the Times observes, is getting fed up with poor services and corruption from the Congress Party. The run-up to the election has seen voters gathering on social media. The BBC notes that voters, many of whom are women, were lining up to vote before polls opened; turnout around noon, local time, was about 35%. "We need good people in government," said one voter. A number of other parties also have candidates in the mix; 272 MPs are required to form a government in the 543-member lower house of parliament, and a coalition could be necessary if no party snags a majority. (More India stories.)

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