While there is still nearly a year to go before the next presidential elections in India, political circles are abuzz with conversations on the candidates for the next elections. The names of veteran politicians have cropped up and then denied.

There is also confusion surrounding the composition of the Opposition that will put up a competing presidential candidate. The Opposition composition, once decided, may carry through to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Before India elects its next President, here’s an explainer on how the world’s biggest democracy elects its commander-in-chief.

Who elects the President?

The President of India is elected by an electoral college. The electoral college comprises of: all state legislative assemblies, the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. All-in-all, 4,120 members of legislative assemblies and 776 members of Parliament vote to elect the President.

Value of votes

The value of votes differs on two counts. First, whether the elector is a member of a state legislative assembly or the Parliament, and second the population of states (in case of MLAs).

The value of an MLA’s vote changes state to state. To arrive at this value, the total population of the state is divided by the total number of MLAs in the state multiplied by 1,000.

On the other hand, the value of a vote of the Member of Parliament (MP) is the same across Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, 708.

This is calculated by dividing the total value of MLA votes by the number of elected MPs in both houses.

Voting

The President is elected by the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. Each member of the electoral college is given one ballot. While casting the vote, the voter has to indicate their preferences — first, second, third etc.

Counting of votes

In the first phase, the first preference votes are counted. In case a candidate secures the required quota in this phase, they are elected. If not, the process of transfer of votes is set in motion.

The ballots of the candidate with the least number of first preference votes are cancelled and their second preference votes are transferred to the first preference votes of other candidates. The process continues till a candidate secures the required quota.