A voting age is a minimum age established by law that a person must attain to be eligible to vote in a public election.
The vast majority of countries in the world have established a voting age. Most governments consider that those of any age lower than the chosen threshold lack the necessary capacity to independently decide how to cast a vote. The voting age is often of such importance that it is set by means of a constitutional provision.
At the present time the voting age across the world is typically 18. When the right to vote was first accorded in democracies the voting age was generally set at 21, or in some cases at an even higher level. In the 1970s widespread reform led to a reduction to 18 in a large number of countries. Debate is currently underway in many places on proposals to reduce the voting age below 18. In May 2009, Danish Member of Parliament Mogens Jensen presented an initiative to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to lower the voting age in Europe to 16. There has also been discussion of giving votes to children from birth (Demeny voting), initially with the votes being cast by parents to ensure proper representation of children's interests.
Elections in India take place every five years by universal adult suffrage.
In 2009, Indian elections covered an electorate larger than 714 million people—over twice that of the next largest, the European Parliament elections—and declared expenditure has trebled since 1989 to almost $300 million, using more than 1 million electronic voting machines. In 2009, the elections covered an even larger electorate of 714 million (larger than both EU and US elections combined).
The size of the huge electorate mandates that elections be conducted in a number of phases (there were four phases in 2004 General Elections and five phases in 2009). It involves a number of step-by-step processes from announcement of election dates by the Election Commission of India, which brings into force the 'model code of conduct' for the political parties, to the announcement of results and submission of the list of successful candidates to the executive head of the state or the centre. The submission of results marks the end of the election process, thereby paving way for the formation of the new government.