Updated: December 15, 2020 8:23:55 PM
At a meeting last week with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA), the Election Commission (EC) indicated to the government the countries where it would like. likes to introduce postal voting for NRIs pilot.
The proposal can be implemented first for voters based in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Germany, France and South Africa.
Currently, Gulf countries are not part of the proposed pilot.
What is the reason that the European Community is abandoning the Gulf countries, which have a significant Indian diaspora, from the proposed pilot?
The Commission obviously has nothing against NRIs living in the Gulf countries such as Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. However MEA in the past has expressed strong reservations about facilitating voting for Indian citizens residing in undemocratic nations.
Conducting a democratic exercise, with the participation of voters lining up outside Indian missions and embassies, in undemocratic countries will require permits, and the host nation may not approve.
In view of these concerns, the European Community has not currently included Gulf countries in its proposed pilot.
What is the current strength of NRI voters?
According to a 2015 UN report, the Indian diaspora population is the largest in the world with 16 million people.
Registration of NRI voters was comparatively very low: just over 1 lakh of overseas Indians registered as voters in India, according to the European Community.
In last year’s Lok Sabha elections, about 25,000 of them flew to India to vote. 📣 Follow Explicit Explained in Telegram
Which foreign countries have the largest numbers of NRIs registered as voters in India?
The European Community has no data on NRI voters emptied by country. Rather, the Commission keeps the data for each state in India.
Therefore, we know the states in which NRIs are registered as voters, but not the foreign country in which they reside.
Out of 1.18 lakh NRI voters, the largest number – around 89,000 – is registered to vote in Kerala. The second largest cohort (about 7,500) is recorded in Andhra Pradesh, followed by Maharashtra (5,500 c.), Karnataka (4,500 c.), Tamil Nadu (3,200) and Telangana (2,500).
Considering that the voting panel is now keen to allow foreign voters to vote in Indian elections from abroad, however, it will also have to keep country information.
If approved, how will postal voting for NRIs work?
In its last week with the MEA, the European Community proposed that any NRI interested in voting by postal ballot in an election should inform the Returning Officer (RO) no later than five days after the announcement of the election. Upon receiving such information, the RO will send the ballot electronically.
An elected officer in the Indian mission will download the ballot paper on behalf of the voter, and hand it over to the foreign elector. The foreign elector may then mark her preference at the mission, receive the self-declaration certificate from the elected officer and return the ballot paper and statement in a sealed envelope to the mission.
The mission will then send all the envelopes to the relevant election officer.
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