Explained: Why NRIs will not get postal voting rights till now?

Written by Ritika Chopra
, Edited by Summary Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: December 15, 2020 at 8:23:55 p.m.

The Election Commission has not yet included the Gulf countries in its proposed pilot.

In a meeting with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) last week, the Election Commission (EC) indicated to the government the countries where it would do so. NRIs want to vote for Indians On a pilot basis.

The proposal could be applied to voters based in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Germany, France and South Africa.

for now, Gulf countries are not part of the proposed pilot.

What is the reason for the Election Commission to exclude Gulf countries from the proposed pilot, which includes important Indian Diaspora?

It is clear that the Commission has nothing against NRIs living in Gulf countries like Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. However, the MEA has in the past expressed strong reservations about allowing Indian nationals living in non-democratic countries to vote.

In undemocratic countries, involving voters queuing outside Indian missions and embassies, practicing democracy will require permission, and the host nation cannot accept it.

In view of these concerns, the Election Commission has not yet included the Gulf countries in its proposed pilot.

What is the current strength of NRIs?

According to a 2015 United Nations report, India has the largest diaspora population in the world at 16 million.

According to the Election Commission, registration of NRI voters has been very low: more than 1 lakh foreign Indians have registered with the Election Commission as foreign voters.

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In which foreign countries are most of the NRIs registered as voters in India?

The Election Commission does not have statistics on NRI voters, which is lower than the country. Instead, the commission keeps data for each state of India.

Therefore, we know the states where NRIs are registered as voters, but not the foreign countries in which they reside.

The largest number of 1.18 lakh NRIs – about 89,000 – are registered to vote in Kerala. The second largest group (about 7,500) is registered in Andhra Pradesh, followed by Maharashtra (about 5,500), Karnataka (about 4,500), Tamil Nadu (3,200) and Telangana (2,500).

Given that the poll panel now wants to allow foreign voters from abroad to vote in Indian elections, however, it will also have to maintain country-based information.

If approved, how will postal ballots work for NRIs?

In its meeting with the MEA last week, the Election Commission proposed that the Returning Officer (RO) should not be notified to any NRI interested in voting in the election by postal ballot five days after the notification of the election. Upon receiving such information, the RO will send the ballot paper electronically.

A designated officer in the Indian Mission will download the ballot paper on behalf of the voter and hand it over to the foreign selector. Foreign voters can then mark their choice in the mission, receive a self-declaration letter from the designated officer, and deliver the ballot paper and declaration letter to the mission in a sealed envelope.

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The mission will then send all the envelopes to the concerned Returning Officer.

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