TIME

The Insanely Huge and Complex Exercise Known as the Indian Elections Begins on April 7

BJP Delhi president Harsh Vardhan launches a rally promoting Narendra Modi as the prime-ministerial candidate at the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections at the BJP office in New Delhi on March 4, 2014 Hindustan Times / Getty Images

900,000 polling stations, 814 million voters: Welcome to the world's largest democracy

India’s Election Commission has announced that the nation’s much anticipated general elections will begin in a little over four weeks on April 7.

Voters in the world’s largest democracy will go to the polls to elect members of the next Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament, in nine phases from April 7 to May 12. Votes will be counted on May 16.

The polls will be held across India on April 7, 9, 10, 12, 17, 24, 30, May 7 and 12. (Here’s a voting map.) Several states will hold their legislative elections during the same period. One of those could be the capital region of New Delhi, which recently came under President’s rule after its chief minister stepped down from office.

With approximately 814 million eligible voters, India’s elections are a vast and complicated exercise. At over 900,000 polling stations around the country, voters will choose lawmakers from the incumbent Congress Party, which has led India’s ruling coalition since 2004, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, the new anticorruption Aam Aadmi Party and a variety of small but powerful regional parties.

For the first time in general elections, voters will also have the choice to record their displeasure with all the candidates, with the introduction of the “none of the above” option on the ballot.

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