Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) may soon be able to cast their votes through postal ballots in the upcoming assembly polls.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the Election Commission of India has approached the government to allow NRIs to cast votes through postal ballots. The Election Commission has conveyed to the Ministry of Law and Justice that it is technically and administratively ready to extend the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) to NRI voters for upcoming assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry.
At present, NRIs can only cast their votes in the constituencies where they are registered as voters. Rough estimates suggest that there are around 1 crore Indians settled abroad of which 60 lakh are of an eligible voting age, reported the Indian Express.
Under ETPBS, the postal ballot is dispatched electronically and returned via ordinary mail. The facility is currently available only to service voters. In order to extend this facility to overseas voters, the government will have to amend the Conduct of Election Rules 1961 and the same would not need the nod of Parliament.
According to the Election Commission's proposal, any NRI interested in voting through the postal ballot will have to inform the Returning Officer (RO) at least five days after the notification of election is issued. The RO will then dispatch the ballot paper electronically and then the NRI voter can mark their preference on ballot printouts and send it back along with a declaration attested by an officer appointed by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country where the NRI is resident, reported The Indian Express.