Electronic ballot for NRI voters under consideration: CEC Sushil Chandra

Updated on Apr 22, 2022 11:24 AM IST

Of the 1.26 crore Indians residing overseas, only a little over 1,00,000 are registered as voters with the Election Commission of India

The office of the Election Commission of India in New Delhi. (REUTERS FILE PHOTO)
The office of the Election Commission of India in New Delhi. (REUTERS FILE PHOTO)
ByDeeksha Bhardwaj

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission of India is considering the introduction of electronically transmitted postal ballot system (ETPBS) facility for overseas voters, the poll body said in a statement on Friday.

A delegation led by chief election commissioner of India Sushil Chandra visited South Africa and Mauritius from April 9-19 and held multiple meetings, wherein inputs were sought on how to conduct free and fair polls.

“During this visit, a series of meetings were held with the election commissions of South Africa and Mauritius, as well as interactions with the NRI community in the two countries,” the ECI statement said. “Both election management bodies are also MoU partners with ECI. The three countries share a relationship which is fundamental, unique and rooted in the collective experiences and cumulative strength of their people.”

The CEC also urged voters to register as overseas voters as the current numbers are “abysmally low”.

According to official estimates, at least 60-65% of the 1.26 crore people residing overseas are likely to be eligible to vote in Indian elections. People familiar with the matter added that a large portion of the registered voters belonged mostly to Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, while a smaller population of registered voters also came from Gujarat and Punjab.

Overseas electors are allowed to register in their respective constituencies using form 6A that is available online. Their names are added at the end of the electoral list of their respective polling station. At present, non-resident Indians (NRIs) can cast their ballots only at their respective polling booths.

The EC, however, wrote to the law ministry on November 27 last year to expedite the amendment of the People’s Representation Act, 1951, to extend the postal ballot facility to overseas electors.

It has proposed that voting be done via ETPBS, which was first tested in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections for service voters.

“He [Chandra] said that South Africa has made big strides in democracy and would be hosting the next general assembly of AWEB in October 2022. India has a very intense and active association with AWEB. Both India and South Africa are the founding members of this organisation. He stated that coming to the land which made Mahatma out of Gandhiji and the land of Nelson Mandela was a veritable pilgrimage for him,” the ECI statement said.

Of the 1.26 crore Indians residing overseas, only a little over 1,00,000 are registered as voters with the Election Commission of India, people familiar with the matter said.

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