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What was the largest popular vote election ever held for a personally-held position?

This means an election for an elected position, with people directly voting for the choice of candidates (e.g. US Presidential elections don't count, since they are votes for the electors and not directly for the President). Referendums on a topic also don't count.

I'm fine with any reasonable method of measuring the size (# of eligible voters, or # of actual votes cast).

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    I think it was season four of American Idol. – user1530 Aug 30 '13 at 3:49
  • Is this question restricted to American elections? (If so, I'd guess the 2012 vote for Diane Feinstein. And some quick research indicates that, in 2012, feinstein did receive the largest number of votes ever for a senate election.) – Avi Aug 30 '13 at 4:02
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    @Avi - no, there's no united-states tag on purpose :) International – user4012 Aug 30 '13 at 10:29
  • It's worth noting that there are no nationwide elections in the United States. Everything is decided at the state (or smaller) level. The only "national elections" are for President and Vice-President. However, they aren't determined by a nationwide vote. Instead, there are 51 separate state (and DC) elections, and the results of those elections determine who makes up the Electoral College (the 535 votes that actually determine the winner - most of the time). – Flydog57 Mar 30 '18 at 23:07
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This means an election for an elected position, with people directly voting for the choice of candidates (e.g. US Presidential elections don't count, since they are votes for the electors and not directly for the President). Referendums on a topic also don't count.

The current response to this question is the 2014 Brazil direct presidential election. (Being precise of what is asked it is its first round, since more votes were casted. But following a criterion of votes effectively casted to any of the candidates, the answer would be the second round). See details below:

  • In the first round (October 5) there were 142 822 046 eligible voters of whom 115 122 611 voted (104 023 543 effectively in 1 of the 11 candidates, the difference accounting for nulls or blank votes).

  • In the second round (October 26) there were the same 142 822 046 eligible voters of whom 112 683 879 voted (105 542 274 effectively in 1 of the 2 remaining candidates, the difference accounting for nulls or blank votes). By the way, with this election, Senator Aecio Neves also holds the record as the most directly voted runner-up (losing with a record of 51 041 155 votes). On the other hand the re-elected President Dilma Roussef, with 54 501 119 just held the title of the second most voted winner on a direct election. She herself received more votes in the 2010 election (55 752 529). Besides that, the Oscar to the most directly voted person on an election goes to Lula da Silva, with 58 295 042 in 2006.

Observation: note that in the second round less eligible voters showed up to the ballot (~112 millions versus ~115 millions 3 weeks sooner), nevertheless the sum of the votes for the remaining two candidates (~105.5 million) exceeds the sum of theirs plus the previous other 9 candidates 3 weeks before (~104 million) with more than 1.5 million votes.

References here.

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The world's largest democracy is India, and as such, it is not unreasonable to assume that this is the world's largest election. In 2009, for example, the total vote count was 714 million which is larger than that of the United States and EU combined.

In a fashion similar to that of the United States President, the President of India is indirectly elected through electors, but if the President of the United States can be said to be elected "by the people" (and indeed, there are vote tallies that often show how many people "voted for the candidate"), then the same can be said of the President of India. In 2012, there were over 700,000 electoral votes (compared to 538 in the United States) cast for Pranab Mukerjee and another 300,000 for his closest rival. Each of these electors is traceable to the will of 1,000 residents in each state, meaning that over a billion people are represented.

That said, since the question directly excludes electors, we need move on to the Lok Sahba. In 2009, Manmohan Singh's Congress Party received over 153 million votes in a three-way election that the United Kingdom's Guardian called the "world's largest democratic poll". The election itself was 28 days long and involved nearly 700 million voters. In a party based system, the choice of party could be considered tantamount to choosing its leader, so may or may not fall within the scope of the question.

That all said, with only 543 seats in the Lok, there is bound to be a single constituency within that body that would almost certainly take the prize. In contrast to China, its logical rival, which has 2,987 members in its parliment and is of dubious democratic value, the sheer number of members (4 times the members, similar sized electorate) dictates that each seat in India would have the most direct electors per position.

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    Were there any elections for a specific position with direct voting where all 714M voters were eligible? – user4012 Aug 30 '13 at 16:24
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    China is funny. We elect electors, who elect electors, who elects the leader. Obviously only the first step is remotely democratic (still a race betwween various Communist candidates). Electors don't pledge to vote for anybody. Funnily, I, or anybody I know, have never ever participated in one of these elections. We only vaguely know it is election season with a sparse poster here or there "remember to vote". Not even state media bothers to prominently feature the elections of the elector-electors. I never even saw a polling station in my life. I guess turnout must be super low. – ithisa Mar 11 '14 at 0:00
  • @user4012 No, there weren't. As the answer (@Affable-Geek) says: "the President of India is indirectly elected through electors [...] Party received over 153 million votes". Well, what he argues once and again is basically correct: "this is the world's largest election" Nevertheless it does not change what OP asked at first place: "an election for an elected position, with people directly voting for the choice of candidates (e.g. US Presidential elections don't count, since they are votes for the electors and not directly for the President)". (cont'd) – curiouser Jul 31 '15 at 4:16
  • @user4012 (cont'd) I even checked if an Indian state could apply. But not any apply at all. "The President is an elected official while the governor is a selected official". So, the current response to this question is the 2014 Brazil direct presidential election. I wrote a detailed separate answer to that. – curiouser Jul 31 '15 at 4:27
  • I don't believe that the Presidents of India and the US are comparable. Even if the question didn't exclude the US President -- where a slate of electors are voted for, based on a pledge to elect a particular presidential candidate -- I think it would/should exclude the President of India, where the electors are legislators whose primary purpose (and the selection criterion on which people vote for them) is to sit in the state and federal parliaments, and for whom electing the (mostly ceremonial) President is an incidental secondary purpose. – owjburnham Apr 13 '17 at 10:08
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The correct answer to this question in its current form would be the following.

  • The largest direct election to a single position by the number of eligible voters is the 2012 presidential election in Russia. There were 109 860 331 eligible voters of whom 71 104 543 cast a vote.

  • The largest election by the number of cast votes is the 1991 election of the president of the RSFSR. There were 106 484 518 eligible voters of whom 79 471 282 cast a vote.

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2014 Indian parliamentary elections won by Narendra Modi led the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

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    I didn't downvote, but if you included the number of votes cast, and if you wrote in full sentences, your answer might have been better recieved. – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Aug 7 '15 at 20:40

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