Over 11k NRIs enroll in voters' list, majority from Kerala

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Over 11k NRIs enroll in voters' list, Majority from Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram, March 10: This time, for the first time, around 11, 844 non-resident Indians will be voting in the Lok Sabha elections, said a TOI report. Interestingly, 11, 488 NRI voters are from the southern state, Kerala.

The NRIs have enrolled via post in the voters' list, but they will have to travel to their constituency to cast votes.

Punjab has 138 NRI voters and Tamil Nadu has 112. However, Uttar Pradesh, the state with the largest number of general voters, has no NRI voters.

"Kerala has a large migrant population in Gulf countries. Also, Keralites are politically aware and so many have registered to vote," said UAE-based Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust chairman K V Shamsudheen.

Citizens of India living abraod were given chance to vote after the amendment of The Representation of the People Bill in 2010.

As of May 2012, the number of NRIs is more than a crore, and the overseas Indian community (which includes NRIs and people of Indian origin) is 2.5 crore.

Eligibility

According to the Election Commission rules, an NRI is eligible to vote if he or she does not hold citizenship of any other country. He/She can vote in the constituency that is mentioned in his or her passport as the place of residence in India.

The form to be filled and posted to the electoral registration officer of the constituency is available on the EC website. He/She will get a letter or an SMS once his or her name is added to the rolls.

However, it is mandatory that the NRI has to appear in person to cast vote. Postal ballot, online voting or even polling in the local Indian missions are not an option.

"The government should allow us to vote in the Indian consulate or embassy or send our votes by post. It is not possible for 25 million NRIs to travel to their hometowns just to vote," said a spokesperson for NRI Voting Rights, a forum of NRIs in the US.

"When we can register online, why not cast our votes online? The EC can introduce extra layers of checks and verification processes," said Shamsudheen. "The government can make use of the details such as fingerprints and iris scans that we have already given for Aadhar registration so that we can vote from the place where we are working," he said.

What do the numbers show?

The number of NRIs registering for election is more from smaller states/UTs like Kerala, Goa and Puducherry. This, in a way, indicates the political awareness among the people.

At least 56 citizens from Puducherry who are living in France have enrolled themselves in the voters' list, while 27 voters from Goa are on the rolls. New Delhi and Maharashtra have 13 NRI voters each, while the rest of the states have just one each.

"The Election Commission has made it easy for NRIs to register as voters by explaining on its website the procedure to be followed. The manner of voting has to be decided by the government and it may take time," said an EC official.


NRI ballot
Total No. of NRIs 1 crore
Total No. of NRI voters 11,844
Kerala 11,488
Punjab 138
Tamil Nadu 112
Puducherry 56
Goa 27
New Delhi 13
Maharashtra 13

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