Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination (Topic: NRIs to Vote via Post)

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Topic: NRIs to Vote via Post

NRIs to Vote via Post

Why in News?

  • Non-resident Indians (NRIs), who under the current election laws must cast their vote in person at their respective constituencies in India, may soon get to vote remotely in an Indian election, from their country of residence.
  • Election Commission reportedly, in a proposal sent to the Law Ministry recently, has suggested that NRIs be allowed to vote through electronically-transmitted postal ballot system (ETPBS). It's a facility already extended to service voters that include members of the Armed forces and para-military forces and government employees serving abroad.


  • Voting rights for NRIs were introduced only in 2011, through an amendment to the Representation of the People Act 1950.
  • A 12-member committee was set up after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to study mainly three options — voting by post, voting at an Indian mission abroad and online voting.
  • The committee ruled out online polling as it felt this could compromise “secrecy of voting”. It also shot down the proposal to vote at Indian missions abroad as they do not have adequate resources.
  • In 2015, the panel finally recommended that NRIs should be given the “additional alternative options of e-postal ballot and proxy voting”, apart from voting in person.
  • Under proxy voting, a registered elector can delegate his voting power to a representative. The Law Ministry accepted the recommendation on proxy voting.

NRI Voters

  • According to a UN report of 2015, India’s diaspora population is the largest in the world at 16 million people.
  • Registration of NRI voters, in comparison, has been very low: a little over one lakh overseas Indians registered as voters in India, according to the EC.
  • In last year’s Lok Sabha elections, roughly 25,000 of them flew to India to vote.

Current Process of Voting for NRIs

  • An NRI can vote in the constituency in which her place of residence, as mentioned in the passport, is located.
  • She can only vote in person and will have to produce her passport in original at the polling station for establishing identity.

EC’s Proposal

  • According to the EC proposal, any NRI interested in voting through the postal ballot in an election will have to inform the Returning Officer (RO) not later than five days after the notification of the election.
  • On receiving such information, the RO will dispatch the ballot paper electronically.
  • The NRI voters will download the ballot paper, mark their preference on the printout 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.
  • It must be returned by post to the returning officer of the NRI’s constituency in India such that it is received latest by 8 a.m. on the counting day.

Voting by Expatriates of UK and US

  • A British citizen living abroad can register as an overseas voter for up to 15 years after leaving the UK, as long as he is a British or Irish citizen and was a registered voter in the UK in the last 15 years. Those who were minors at the time of leaving the country can also vote as long as their parent or guardian was registered to vote in the UK.
  • American expatriates enjoy voting rights in the US irrespective of how long they have been living abroad. They can vote for federal office candidates in the primary and general elections. Adults can exercise absentee voting by submitting a completed Federal Post Card Application or FPCA to their local election officials.