Here's How Big the World's Largest Democracy Really Is, by the Numbers

When the world's largest democracy goes to vote, everything about it is bound to be huge. 

April 7 marked the beginning of the 16th parliamentary elections in India. Poised to be the most historic election in decades, hundreds of millions of people will vote in their new government in nine phases over the next six weeks.

So just how big is this election? Here are some numbers to help you see how massive the operation is behind India's general elections:

About 814.5 million people are registered to vote in the 2014 Indian elections, up from 713 million voters in 2009. That's 2.6 times the entire population of the U.S. in 2012.

This election will decide who will occupy the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha (the Lower House) of the Indian Parliament and who will go on to become the next prime minister. Each party selects a prime ministerial candidate, who can win the nation's highest office if his party manages to win a majority of 272 out of the 543 seats.

The scale of this democratic operation is so immense that it requires around 5 million people simply to organize and execute the procedure and just as many to police it.

In order to make it convenient for voters located in remote areas, the Election Commission of India declared that no voter would have to travel more than 2 kilometers to a polling booth.

An astonishing 28% of India's MPs have criminal records and unfortunately, the new crop of candidates doesn't seem to be too clean either: nearly one-fifth of them face criminal charges. The U.S. Congress fares remarkably well in comparison, as none of the sitting members are facing criminal charges and in 2013, only two members were convicted of a crime.

The U.S. presidential elections may be the world's most expensive, racking up $7 billion in campaign dollars, but India isn't far behind. Indian politicians spend a whopping $5 billion in campaigning, triple the sum for the last national elections in 2009.

A new phenomenon that hasn't been seen before is the rise of the first-time voter. Nearly 150 million 18 to 23-year-olds will qualify to vote for the first time. An unpredictable demographic that makes up nearly 10% of the total electorate, the young voters' affinity for social media led to politicians spending almost $83 million on social media advertising.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Iva Dixit

Iva Dixit is a newly minted journalist-in-progress, working towards a Master's Degree from Columbia Journalism School. Her interests include gaps of all kinds: culture, gender, wage and thigh. Ask her a question or tell her your story.

MORE FROM

White House says it knows of potential Syrian chemical attack, warns Assad of "heavy price"

The Trump administration did not provide any evidence backing the threat.

Serena Williams responds to John McEnroe's comments saying she would rank "like 700" against men

Williams said his statements were "not factually based."

People are way less likely to be helpful when it's hot out, according to study

Sorry, it's too hot out to help you move.

Democrats, the American Medical Association and US bishops blast the Senate health care bill

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 15 million more Americans will be without health insurance next year if the bill passes.

Dow Jones won’t talk about its reported pay gap problem

A study released by the union representing Dow Jones employees found evidence of a "significant pay gap between men and women" who had the same job title and level of experience.

Mom slams ACA repeal, shows what's at stake in a tweetstorm about son's health

This mom says that without the ACA, her son wouldn't get the medical care he desperately needs.

White House says it knows of potential Syrian chemical attack, warns Assad of "heavy price"

The Trump administration did not provide any evidence backing the threat.

Serena Williams responds to John McEnroe's comments saying she would rank "like 700" against men

Williams said his statements were "not factually based."

People are way less likely to be helpful when it's hot out, according to study

Sorry, it's too hot out to help you move.

Democrats, the American Medical Association and US bishops blast the Senate health care bill

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 15 million more Americans will be without health insurance next year if the bill passes.

Dow Jones won’t talk about its reported pay gap problem

A study released by the union representing Dow Jones employees found evidence of a "significant pay gap between men and women" who had the same job title and level of experience.

Mom slams ACA repeal, shows what's at stake in a tweetstorm about son's health

This mom says that without the ACA, her son wouldn't get the medical care he desperately needs.