Political parties would bring truckloads of people to vote for their chosen candidates. There would be mass rallies, spontaneous fighting or ‘hungama’ as it’s called in India. But still democracy functioned.
In 1977 the ordinary Indian people voted the despotic Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who had declared emergency and ruled by decree, out of power. She eventually was sentenced to prison, and then brought back by a landslide majority at the elections resulting in more 'hungama'. Electronic voting has changed much of this.
Democracy has Ancient Roots in India
Athenian democracy from around 510 B.C is well-known but there was democracy in other places also in those days.
Democracy is not new in India. Sudhodhana, the father of Buddha was a democratically elected king in the sixth century B.C. This fact is not known very much.
Some people, especially from the USA, love to lecture that they are taking democracy everywhere and they don't spare Indians either. They don't like being told back that malfunctions in their own ballot system brought a president widely acknowledged to be the worst to power. Unknown to them and also to most of the world the largest democracy in the world is also a functioning E-Democracy.
How is E-Democracy Different?
Technology is the enabler and not the solution
The central challenge is to integrate new technological means with traditional or "offline" methods of access to information as well as channels of consulting and engaging the public in policy-making decisions.
Quantity does not mean quality so the standards must be kept high. Probably the biggest barrier to engaging people successfully in online engagement of policy-making is not technological but rather cultural, organisational and a mindset issue. Richard E. Sclove makes this point in "Democracy and Technology" - "The technologies we use are the results of human choices and not the product of forces beyond human control."