How Do You Count 500 Million Votes? A Look At India's Election

  • Indian election workers learn to use and check electronic voting machines on May 11.
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    Indian election workers learn to use and check electronic voting machines on May 11.
    Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
  • A Border Security Force officer stands guard as Indian citizens wait in line to vote at a polling station on May 12.
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    A Border Security Force officer stands guard as Indian citizens wait in line to vote at a polling station on May 12.
    Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
  • A child looks on as Muslim women wait in line to cast their votes at a polling station in Azamgarh, India on May 12.
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    A child looks on as Muslim women wait in line to cast their votes at a polling station in Azamgarh, India on May 12.
    Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images
  • An Indian election worker closes up an electronic voting machine before sealing it after the final polls closed a polling station on May 12 in Varanasi, India.
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    An Indian election worker closes up an electronic voting machine before sealing it after the final polls closed a polling station on May 12 in Varanasi, India.
    Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
  • Indian election officials carry electronic voting machines towards a counting center in Ranchi on May 16.
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    Indian election officials carry electronic voting machines towards a counting center in Ranchi on May 16.
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  • An Indian election commission officer cuts the seal of an electronic voting machine at a counting center in New Delhi on May 16.
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    An Indian election commission officer cuts the seal of an electronic voting machine at a counting center in New Delhi on May 16.
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  • Indian election officials, polling agents and observers gather as electronic voting machines are examined in Kolkata on May 16.
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    Indian election officials, polling agents and observers gather as electronic voting machines are examined in Kolkata on May 16.
    Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images

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Parliamentary elections in the world's largest democracy ended on Friday. The election took six weeks; more than 800 million citizens were eligible to vote.

Photos from the election make it clear that, as NPR's Julie McCarthy reported earlier this week, an election that massive requires a lot of logistical planning. Nearly 1 million voting stations, each featuring electronic voting machines, were set up. It's not just a problem of numbers — there's also the question of terrain and transportation, as McCarthy explains:

Former Chief Election Commissioner Quraishi authored An Undocumented Wonder: The Making of the Great Indian Election and he says no effort is spared to reach the hundreds of millions with ballots, even it it takes elephants, camels, boats, planes or trains.

"You name it, and that is the transport we're using. And there are some places where none of these transports will go, then polling teams have to walk."

He says not even the lone priest living in a lion-infested forest will be left without a voting booth.

In the results announced Friday, the Bharatiya Janata Party won in a landslide and its leader, Narendra Modi, is virtually certain to become prime minister.

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