Explained: How Election Commission decides on party symbols

News: During the Bihar Assembly Election, voters can expect to see a myriad of symbols like chapati roller, dolli, bangles, capsicum on the ballots.


  • Election symbols: It is a standardised symbol allocated to a political party.
  • Need of Election Symbols: It helps the several unrecognised parties and independent candidates differentiate themselves from one another and help voters identify the party of their choice.
  • Types of Election Symbols: As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2017, party symbols are either:
    • Reserved: Eight national parties and 64 state parties across the country have reserved symbols.
    • Free: The Election Commission also has a pool of nearly 200 “free” symbols that are allotted to the thousands of unrecognised regional parties that pop up before elections.
  • How are symbols allotted to political parties? The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the EC to recognise political parties and allot symbols:
    • A party/candidate has to provide a list of three symbols from the EC’s free symbols list at the time of filing nomination papers. Among them, one symbol is allotted to the party/candidate on a first-come-first-serve basis.
    • When a recognised political party splits, the Election Commission takes the decision on assigning the symbol.For example, when the Samajwadi Party split, the EC allotted the ‘bicycle’ to the Akhilesh Yadav faction.