There are many methods of electing representatives in constituencies. The first method is known as Single-Member Constituency System and the second is Multi-Member Constituency. The systems of direct and indirect elections are also in vogue.
Let us discuss them one by one:
(1) Single-Member Constituency:
This means that the entire country is divided into as many constituencies as the number of representatives is to be elected. For example, if 294 members are to be elected for the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, the Andhra Pradesh will be divided into 294 constituencies. From each constituency one member will be elected.
The candidate, who secures maximum number of votes, will be deemed to have been elected. Every citizen has to cast one vote, which means, he has the right to cast his vote for only one Assembly and from only one constituency.
(2) Multi-member Constituency:
In this system the entire country is divided into large constituencies. More than one representative is elected from each constituency. Every voter gets more than one vote. Ordinary member cannot dump all his votes in favour of one candidate.
In order to win the elections, the candidate has to secure a fixed number of votes, and there is no need for securing a majority vote. The number of representatives to be elected from one constituency is decided on the basis of area or the population. This system is also called General Ticket System.
Advantages of Single-Member Constituency:
(1) The representative remains responsible to the people;
(2) Because of small constituency poor but able people can contest the election early and the country is benefited by their ability;
(3) This system is very simple and is easily comprehensible;
(4) There is no likelihood of representation being given to smaller groups. It helps in the formation of a stable and lasting cabinet;
(5) This system affords opportunity to the representative to maintain contact with the people, because generally the constituency is small.
Disadvantages of Single Member Constituency:
(1) In this system sometimes minorities fail to get satisfactory representation.
(2) The government gets the opportunity to delimit constituencies to its own advantage arid it tries to limit the supports of the opposition parties in a minimum number of constituencies.
(3) In this system sometimes candidates securing minimum number of votes win the elections because the votes of opposition parties are divided.
For example, if 1,000 votes were polled at one place and out of these 1000 votes A secured 300, B 250, C 175, D 125, E 100 and F. 50 A will be declared elected, though he secured only 300 votes out of 1,000 and the remaining candidates secured more votes together than he.
Advantages of Multi-member Constituencies:
(1) The ruling party cannot twist the constituencies in its own favour to meet its selfish ends.
(2) People representing the national interests are elected.
(3) The minorities get adequate representation in it.
Disadvantages of the Multi-member Constituencies:
(1) Owing to the vast area of the Constituencies, a close contact between the representative and the voters cannot be maintained.
(2) This creates splinter groups in the Parliament and the cabinet is not stable.
(3) No representative from a district or a tehsil is responsible to the voters in that area because many representatives from there sit in the legislature.
(3) Method of Direct Election:
Direct election means election of the representatives by the voters themselves. Each voter goes to the polling station and casts his vote in favour of the candidate of his choice. For this purpose he is given a Ballot Paper and he puts it in the ballot box after marking his choice on it. The candidate securing maximum number of votes is declared elected. In countries like India Soviet Union, U.K. etc., elections are held in this way.
(4) Indirect Election:
When the voters do not elect their representatives directly, but elect an Electoral College and when later on that Electoral College the representative, the system is called indirect election. Thus the final right of election is not in the hands of the voters in this system, but in the hands of the Electoral College. In India this system is adopted for the election of the second chamber in the states and the Centre.
Advantages of Direct Election:
(1) The main advantage of direct election is that in this system, the people become conscious about their rights and duties.
(2) Voters become politically enlightened.
(3) The candidates place before the voters their policies and programmes. It imparts much political education to the people.
(4) This system is more democratic, because the voters get an opportunity to elect their representatives directly,
(5) The representatives keep a contact with the voters; People can also keep a close watch on the work of their representatives.
Demerits of Direct Election:
(1) Since the voter are not quite educated and enlightened, they are easily swayed by the fiery speeches of the leaders, with the result that useless, selfish and shrewd candidates are elected.
(2) The public becomes the victim of false propaganda.
(3) This type of election is very expensive and arrangements are to be made at a very large scale.
(4) The people become over- enthusiastic at the time of such elections and sometimes disturbances take place.
(5) Sensible people remain aloof from such elections because the candidates bring charges and counter-charges against one another.
Merits or Advantages of Indirect Election:
(1) In this system the ultimate power of the election of the representatives is in the hands of the members of the Electoral College who are more educated and enlightened.
(2) The evils of the rule of the crowd are eliminated in this system.
(3) No false propaganda is carried on during elections.
(4) The party feeling is more or less absent in this system.
(5) This system is useful for larger constituencies.
(6) Money is not wasted on propaganda as the number of the members of the Electoral College is comparatively small.
(7) There is no fear of rowdyism, and roits in this system.
(8) Intelligent persons like to contest such elections as they are to establish contact only with a small number of intelligent voters
Disadvantages or Demerits of Indirect Election:
(1) This system is not democratic because the voter does not elect his representative directly.
(2) The voters have no direct contact with their representative.
(3) The voters do not take much interest in politics and they do not receive any political education.
(4) The party feelings are also not totally absent in this system, because the members of the Electoral College are also elected on party lines and when Presidents etc., are elected through this system, they are to depend upon their support.
(5) There is no direct contact between the voters and the representatives.
(6) There are many intrigues among the members of the Electoral College and sometimes there is a possibility of bribery.
(7) If the voters are intelligent and educated there is no need for indirect elections.