EC suggests NRI voting via proxies and e-ballots

This post was originally published on 18 October 2014 and the content may be outdated.

The Election Commission has suggested allowing non-resident Indians (NRIs) to participate in voting through proxies and electronic ballots.

In a report it is expected to submit to the Supreme Court, the EC recommends starting with a pilot programme covering a few places, and then extending it to assembly and eventually to parliamentary polls. If the process is initiated under court orders, NRI voting can become a reality in assembly elections by 2016.

The commission prepared the report following a Supreme Court directive. While the report recommends allowing both proxy and e-voting , it ruled out personal voting at Indian embassies and postal ballots as effective options.

Proxy Voting System

In the proxy system, NRIs can name a proxy in their constituency who can exercise his or her right to vote. To cast a proxy vote, the user appoints someone as their proxy, by authorizing them to cast or secure their vote in their stead.
But in reality, this process might not be very easy as the nomination form will have to be signed by NRI in the presence of a First Class Magistrate or Notary.

E-Ballot Voting System

In the e-ballot system, blank ballot papers will be electronically sent to NRIs over the Internet (by e-mail). The NRI can mark his vote and return it by post to the returning officer. NRIs will have to apply online six months before elections and the authorities will verify their claim before allowing them to vote.

Currently, there are only 12,000 NRI voters, but they need to travel to India to cast their votes. Proxy and e-ballots could encourage more to register as voters.

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