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How NRIs could vote by post?

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

How NRIs could vote by post?


Context:

The Election Commission (EC) recently approached the Law Ministry to permit NRIs to cast their votes from overseas through postal ballots.

 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.

  • An NRI can vote in the constituency in which her place of residence, as mentioned in the passport, is located.
  • She can only vote in person and will have to produce her passport in original at the polling station for establishing identity.

What is current strength of NRI voters?

According to a UN report of 2015, India’s diaspora population is the largest in the world at 16 million people.

If approved, how will voting by postal ballots work for NRIs?

  1. According to the EC proposal, any NRI interested in voting through the postal ballot in an election will have to inform the Returning Officer (RO) not later than five days after the notification of the election.
  2. On receiving such information, the RO will dispatch the ballot paper electronically.
  3. The NRI voters will download the ballot paper, mark their preference on the printout and send it back along with a declaration attested by an officer appointed by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country where the NRI is resident.

What happened to the proposal to grant proxy voting rights to overseas electors?

  • The Union Cabinet passed the proposal on proxy voting rights for NRIs in 2017.
  • The government then brought a Bill amending the Representation of the People Act 1950.
  • The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha and was awaiting Rajya Sabha’s approval when it lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Postal ballot?
  2. Who can cast their votes through postal ballot?
  3. How do NRIs cast their votes?

Mains Link:

Should NRIs be permitted to cast their votes from overseas through postal ballots? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.