Election Commission of India mulling over Proxy Voting and Postal Balloting for NRIs

Election Commission of India mulling over Proxy Voting and Postal Balloting for NRIs

 
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NEW YORK
 (TIP): In a first ever outreach to NRI’s, a two-member delegation from the Election Commission of India
 held, July 31, a news conference and a community meeting, organized 
with GOPIO’s initiative, at the Consulate General of India in New York. 
The delegation members briefed the gathering about the Election 
Commission’s proposals to facilitate voting by proxy and postal ballot 
to NRI’s. They also sought suggestions to ensure that the NRI poll 
process will be seamless. As of now the NRI voter has to be physically 
present in India to cast his/ her vote.


It may be mentioned here that it was for
 the first time in many years that a delegation from Election Commission
 visited the US to brief the media and interact with community. The 
visit helped community to understand what the government of India was 
doing and the delegation got a feedback as to the expectations of 
community abroad.


The delegation — comprising Senior 
Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha and Deputy Election 
Commissioner Sandeep Saxena – held a meeting last week with in-charge 
Consul General Paramita Tripathi and other consulate officials. About 30
 NRIs representing various organizations and members of the Indian news 
media were present at the meeting.


“We have launched a No (NRI) Voter Left 
Behind campaign,” they said last week. “Proxy voting is in a very 
advanced stage and electronic postal balloting is also under serious 
consideration.”


In the proxy voting method, an NRI voter
 will be given the opportunity of choosing a voter in India on whom the 
voter has immense trust. Basing on the voter’s opinion, the proxy person
 will cast the voter’s ballot physically at the polling station 
concerned.


The PTI news agency, citing a senior government functionary, reported on August 2 that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accepted the proxy voting proposal recommended by the Election Commission.


In the e-postal balloting, the 
prospective NRI voter will have to take a printout of the voter form and
 mail it to the Election Commission offices in respective states.


The two poll panel officials made it 
clear that the two proposals have not yet become law. Only after an act 
is made, NRIs will be able to participate in the election process in 
India beginning first with national and state polls. But both are 
confident that the relevant laws will be made by parliament in time for 
the next general elections scheduled for April-May 2019.


There are an estimated 16 million NRIs 
who hold Indian passports. Of them up to 70 percent are eligible voters,
 according to the duo.


Another noteworthy proposal of the 
Election Commission related to involving young Indian students studying 
abroad in the electoral process of India. Emphasizing the importance of 
involvement of the young Indians abroad, the two members of the 
delegation announced that senior students at colleges and universities 
will be asked to take initiative to register student voters. They will 
be designated Election Commission ambassadors.


Among the community organizations  present was the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin,
 represented by veteran NRI Thomas Abraham, who still holds the Indian 
passport. Several other NRI attendees also hold the country’s passport. 
However, some Indian-Americans holding the US passport also took part in
 the meeting.

The attendees with the Election Commission delegation and the Deputy Consul General

A few questions were also raised by 
media persons and community members. A question related to voting rights
 for those who for some reason have not been issued passport by 
Government of India. Another related to allowing the persons of Indian 
origin the right to vote which, it was argued will lead to their greater
 involvement in the affairs of the country of their origin. A suggestion
 was made that the Indian missions abroad could be the polling booths 
for NRI voters.


   



The reply of the delegation was it was 
not for them to do anything in respect of the suggestions made about the
 voting right to a category: it was for the lawmakers to decide.


Source:https://www.theindianpanorama.news
/unitedstates/election-commission-india-mulling-proxy-voting-postal-balloting-nris/

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