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Data: Election Commission of India; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

India’s Election Commission has confiscated more than $474 million worth of drugs, alcohol, cash and gold that politicians intended to distribute to voters.

Why it matters: The seizures expose the deep-rooted culture of vote buying in the world's largest election. With 17 days still to go in the staggered elections, the value of the seizures is already 2.5 times higher than the total from 2014.

Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment said this could be India's costliest election ever, with parties spending some $7 billion.

  • "Most of the money that fuels Indian elections is so-called 'black money' that is transmitted off-the-books to avoid the prying eyes of the Election Commission," he says. "Although there are strict limits on how much candidates can spend, there are innumerable ways that politicians can skirt the rules."
  • "One of the biggest expenses candidates incur is the distribution of cash, liquor, and other inducements on the eve of polling. This practice of 'gift-giving' does not necessarily guarantee victory, but it signals a candidate’s largesse and is widely accepted as the cost of doing business in Indian elections."

The big picture: India has completed four out of seven phases of polling, with final results expected on May 23. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking another term.

Go deeper: Viral lies spread before Indian and Indonesian elections

Go deeper

Americans reflect on Independence Day amid racism reckoning

A Black Lives Matter banner and a United States flag on the facade of the U.S. embassy building in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Simon Shin/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

America's leaders are rethinking how they view Independence Day, as the country reckons with the historic, unequal treatment of people of color during a pandemic which has disproportionately affected nonwhite Americans.

Why it matters: The country’s legacy of racism has come into sharp focus in the weeks of protests following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. From Confederate statues to Mount Rushmore, Americans are reexamining the symbols and traditions they elevate and the history behind them.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 11,031,905 — Total deaths: 523,777 — Total recoveries — 5,834,337Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 2,788,395 — Total deaths: 129,306 — Total recoveries: 790,404 — Total tested: 34,213,497Map.
  3. States: ICU beds in Arizona's hot spot reach near capacity.
  4. Public health: The states where face coverings are mandatory Fauci says it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
  5. Economy: The economy may recover just quickly enough to kill political interest in more stimulus.
18 hours ago - Sports

Washington Redskins to review team name amid public pressure

Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins have announced they will be conducting a review of the team's name after mounting pressure from the public and corporate sponsors.

Why it matters: This review is the first formal step the Redskins are taking since the debate surrounding the name first began. It comes after weeks of discussions between the team and the NFL, the team said.