MEA favours EC’s proposal to give NRIs e-ballots
New Delhi, Jan 05: The Election Commission of India has found favour of its proposal to allow Non-Resident Indians cast their votes through postal ballots. The Ministry of External Affairs wrote to the EC favouring its proposal.
However the MEA wants the EC to hold consultations with stakeholders before coming to a final conclusion. This would mean that the EC would now hold consultations with NRI associations, the various ministries and departments that would be involved in the process.
Last month the Election Commission of India approached the government to permit Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to cast their votes through postal ballots.
The EC told the Law Ministry that it is technically and administratively ready to extend the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System to NRI voters for the next elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
Currently the NRIs can only cast their votes in their respective constituencies. Rough estimates suggest that there are around 1 crore Indians settled abroad of which 60 lakh are of an eligible voting age.
The Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System is currently available only to service voters. Under this the postal ballot is dispatched electronically and returned via ordinary mail. In order to extend this facility to overseas voters, the government needs to amend the Conduct of Election Rules 1961 and the same would not need the nod of Parliament.
Once amended, any NRI who would be interested in voting through the postal ballot will have to inform the Returning Officer at least 5 days after the notification is issued. The RO would dispatch the ballot paper electronically and then the NRI voter can mark their preference and send it back along with a declaration attested by an officer appointed by the diplomatic or consular representative of India the country where the NRI is residing.