This week, India kicks off the largest election in world history, with a record 815 million people eligible to vote.
But how can such a massive operation in the diverse, South Asian country run smoothly enough to be one of the most peaceful democratic processes in the region?
The answer is simple: time. Since there are so many voters in so many jurisdictions, sometimes in remote locations, India allots nine separate days of voting spread between April 7 and May 12 to account for logistical and security concerns. Some regions just need one day for voting. Others need five days or more.
Voters in India elect 543 members to its lower house, called Lok Sabha, every five years. Since India uses a parliamentary system, a party need a 272-seat majority to elect its prime minister.
The country is plagued by political corruption, but that doesn’t trickle down to elections. The Economist explains that public officials take elections seriously. They are good with “narrowly focused tasks of limited duration,” they respond well to public scrutiny, and the Election Commission is independent, preventing bribes.