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MEA agrees with the proposal to give electronic ballots to NRIs | India News

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NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA) has written to the Electoral Commission favoring its recent proposal to allow Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to vote remotely via the electronically transmitted postal voting system (ETPBS) from their country of residence. However, it has suggested that the electoral body consult with all interested parties before implementing the facility.
NRIs, under current electoral laws, must cast their vote in person in their respective constituencies in India.
EC sources indicated that the voting panel, as indicated by MEA, will soon begin consultations with the NRI associations and various ministries and departments that will be involved in the exercise.
The ETPBS facility has already been expanded to serve voters who include members of the military and paramilitary forces, as well as government employees serving abroad.
EC had proposed, in its November 27 letter to the law clerk, that the necessary amendments be made to the Election Rules of Conduct, 1961, “as soon as possible” to allow the Indian diaspora to vote by mail, He added that he is “technically and administratively prepared to expand this facility in the general elections to the legislative assemblies of Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry”, scheduled for April and May.
There are about 1.17 lakhs of NRI registered as voters in the electoral registers. In its letter, EC stated that it has been receiving various representations from the Indian diaspora to facilitate voting by mail, as voters abroad are not in a position to be present in their voting area as they travel to India for This purpose is an expensive affair and otherwise they also cannot leave their country of residence due to compulsions such as employment, education or other commitments. The protocols associated with Covid-19 have further compounded the problem, he added.
Under the EC proposal, an NRI can receive a postal ballot electronically after it hints at its desire to vote via Form 12 to the teller, which must be received at least five days after the election notification. The duly completed postal ballot, certified by an official to be appointed by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country where the voter resides abroad, must be returned by post to the NRI constituency teller in India in a manner that is received no later than 8 am on the counting day.

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