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Postal Ballots May be an Option for NRIs in Upcoming Elections

Postal ballots Update for Upcoming Elections

Wednesday, 2nd December 2020



Postal Ballots May be an Option for NRIs in Upcoming Elections

Postal ballots Update for Upcoming Elections

December 1, 2020 2:00:52 pm

The Election Commission has given a nod to the option of postal ballot voting for NRIs and has also taken the proposal forward to the government for approval.

They said that the choice of an Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) would be offered to NRIs during the 2021 polls in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry.

As per reports from the top polling body, of the nearly 1 crore Indians who reside out of the country, about 60 lakh have the eligibility to cast their vote. Such numbers could easily hold considerable sway in election outcomes, particularly in states like Punjab, Gujarat, and Kerala.

At present NRIs have the authority to only cast their votes in their respective constituencies. Such regulation is considered restrictive as just a handful of Indians living overseas have registered as voters, the largest chunk being from the state of Kerala.

A proposal has been issued to the Law Ministry that essentially states that in case an NRI is willing to vote through postal ballot, they would be required to keep the Returning Officer (RO) appraised, a minimum of five days after a notification is issued.

Post that, the RO will dispatch the ballot paper electronically and then the NRI voter can mark their preferred candidate and send it back along with a declaration attested by an officer who is appointed by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country where the individual is residing.

At the moment, it is only the service voters who have access to the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System, by virtue of which, the postal ballot is transmitted electronically and returned through ordinary mail.

This system can be extended to voters living abroad and for this, the government will need to amend the Conduct of Election Rules 1961, which will not require and additional approval from the Parliament.

As far as political parties are concerned, only the Nationalist Congress Party has given their support so far. Others like the Bahujan Samaj Party, BJP, and CPI, postal ballots are not a feasible option because of time constraint.

The News Talkie Bureau



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