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ECI considering extension of postal voting for NRIs

  • Posted By
    10Pointer
  • Categories
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    24th Feb, 2021

Context

The Election Commission of India is planning to extend the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System on a pilot basis in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, and South Africa.

Voting rights for Citizens of India

  • Every person who is a citizen of India and who is not less thaneighteen years of age and is not otherwise disqualified on the following ground, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter at any such election-
  • non-residence
  • unsoundness of mind
  • crime or corrupt or illegal practice
  • The Sixty-first Amendment(Article 354) of the Constitution of India, officially known as The Constitution (Sixty-first Amendment) Act, 1988, lowered the voting age of elections to the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of States from 21 years to 18 years.

What is the current process of voting for Indian citizens living abroad?

  • Voting rights for NRIs were introduced only in 2011, through an amendment to the Representation of the People Act 1950.
  • NRI can vote in the constituency in which her place of residence, as mentioned in the passport, is located.
  • He/She can only vote in person and will have to produce her passport in original at the polling station for establishing identity.

Provisions for casting vote in India

The government of India has provisions for allowing its citizens to cast vote during an election in three different ways:

  • In-person: It allows voting with the voter to be physically present at the polling booth.
  • By post: A postal ballot involves votes being sent by post.
    • The rights are reserved for people deputed in election duties at places away from his or her constituency, or for armed force personnel, the armed police force of a state serving in another state, ambassadors and high commissioners, and their staff.
    • The spouses of the above-mentioned electorate can also enjoy these benefits.
    • One can download blank post-ballot sent to them electronically, mark their preference and send back the filled-up ballot paper to the election official.
  • Through a proxy: Proxy voting allows a registered elector to delegate his voting rights to a representative he nominates.

Need for proxy voting

  • Many (non-resident Indians) NRIs have been urging the government to grant them the right to cast proxy votes in the constituencies where they are registered as it is not feasible for them to come to India just to cast vote as it is not economically viable.
  • It is also seen as a part of the diaspora influence mechanism in the host and home country.
  • A Bill was introduced in 2017, in the Lok Sabha to facilitate this got stuck in the Upper House of Parliament.

Service Voters

  • in the Armed Forces of India
  • from Assam Rifles, CRPF, BSF, ITBF; GREF in Border Road Organisation; Central Industrial Security Force
  • employed under the Government of India, in a post outside India
  • member of an Armed Police Force of a State, and serving outside that state

Overseas voters

  • a citizen of India, absent from the country owing to employment, education,etc, has not acquired citizenship of any other country and is otherwise eligible to be registered as a voter in the address mentioned in your passport.