Lok Satta

Wednesday, 04 February 2009 11:50

NRI Voter Rights

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NRI Voter Rights
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Mode of voting

Postal Ballot and voting at embassies and consulates are legally feasible, but practically difficult. We have elections for local, state and national legislatures frequently. It is unlikely that postal ballots will be printed for each constituency (4072 state legislative assembly constituencies, and 543 Lok Sabha constituencies apart from countless local elections), sent by mail to NRIs, and marked ballots will be received by the returning officers in time and to be counted. Similarly, it will be a Herculean task for the Indian missions abroad to keep track of all ballot papers in all constituencies and facilitate voting at embassies. Ours is not a presidential or gubernatorial election; we elect our legislators. Internet voting in India is only in the realm of the future.

 

One elegant solution will be proxy voting. As the Parliamentary Committee notes, "presently, the members of armed forces and paramilitary forces have been granted proxy voting, whereas forces deployed outside the states and the officials deployed in the foreign missions have been given postal ballot voting". As explained earlier, postal ballot may not really help in effective political participation. But proxy voting is simple, easy and will facilitate widest possible exercise of franchise by NRIs. For instance, under Rule 27N of the Conduct of Elections rules, 1961, a service voter (member of the armed forces) can appoint any person as his proxy to give vote on his behalf and in his name. Such an appointment of proxy shall be made in the prescribed Form 13F, and it can be revoked in Form 13G, and informed to the Returning Officer before the last date of filing nominations. This is a simple, easy, and fail-safe procedure, and such a facility of proxy voting can be extended to NRIs by law.

  • Lok Satta supports proxy voting for all NRIs. Once internet voting becomes feasible in India, such a facility can be extended to NRIs.