India has moved a step closer to enabling Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to vote using a web–based e-postal ballot. In addition to 11 million NRI voters, about 50-70 lakh voters on election duty, service voters, those who are overseas and others approved by the Election Commission of India (ECI) will benefit from this system.
Every citizen living abroad can enroll in the electoral rolls in India. After that, eligible voters will register online for e-postal voting, and they will be provided four documents in addition to an e-postal ballot paper. All these documents will have a ‘unique identity’ to ensure voter confidentiality, anonymity, privacy and attendance.
The elector will download and take prints of all the documents, returning them as per ECI instructions. However, the modalities of handling the returned e-postal ballot papers are under deliberation.
The National Informatics Centre (NIC) is already hosting ECI’s various applications and is expected to provide the Information Communication and Telecommunication (ICT) infrastructure facilities.
In May last year, the ECI set up a committee under the chairmanship of deputy election commissioner Vinod Zutsi to introduce e-balloting. The committee had representatives from the ECI, the ministry of law and justice, external affairs, overseas Indian affairs, the director-general of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), and the director-general of the NIC.
This committee identified the C-DAC as the implementation partner for the e-postal ballot system. Sources in the government said, “The C-DAC is now developing a prototype of web-based e-postal ballot delivery system in close collaboration with the ECI.”
The process is part of the proposal to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1950, and the Representation of the Peoples, 1951.