Government clears proxy vote move for NRIs

Overseas electors will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election — one person can act as proxy for only one overseas voter.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: August 3, 2017 9:22 am
NRI, nri vote, nri voting, nri voters, india news, elections, india elections, india vote abroad The government was earlier considering granting them postal voting rights similar to voters in the armed forces, who can receive ballot papers electronically and print them.

The Government on Wednesday approved changes in electoral laws to permit Non-Resident Indians to cast their vote in assembly and Lok Sabha elections from overseas. If the proposal passes political muster in Parliament, NRIs will be able to exercise their voting rights through “proxy”. Currently, only service personnel are permitted to vote through proxy.

However, the facility for NRIs will not be the same as that enjoyed by service personnel. For instance, voters in the armed forces can nominate their relatives as permanent proxy to vote on their behalf. But the Union Cabinet’s approval for proxy voting by NRIs carries a caveat: they cannot nominate one proxy for all polls.

Overseas electors will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election — one person can act as proxy for only one overseas voter. With the Cabinet’s approval, sources said, suitable rules and guidelines will be framed to make this move effective soon. Currently, voters residing abroad can only cast their votes in their respective constituencies. This regulation is seen as restrictive as only a few thousand Indians living overseas have registered as voters, the maximum being from Kerala. Of these, barely anyone has travelled to the country to exercise his or her franchise.

The government was earlier considering granting them postal voting rights similar to voters in the armed forces, who can receive ballot papers electronically and print them. Service voters mark their preference on ballot printouts and send them through post after verification by station officers for counting. However, the government felt this procedure will be too cumbersome to implement in case of NRIs who live all over the world — a team of Ministers were constituted to discuss this aspect, and a final decision is awaited.

According to rough estimates, there are about 1 crore Indians settled abroad, of which 60 lakh could be of eligible voting age. They could hold considerable sway in election results, especially in states such as Punjab, Gujarat and Kerala, where a number of expats hail from. The move to grant proxy voting rights to overseas electors is significant against the backdrop of BJP’s claims of enjoying huge goodwill among NRIs. The party sought to deepen its electoral appeal among them through Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public outreach programmes during his foreign visits after coming to power in 2014.

The proposal to permit NRI voters to cast their vote from overseas was taken up seriously by the election commission in 2014 after it received several requests regarding this matter, including one from Rajya Sabha MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal and the Ministry of Overseas Affairs. Interestingly, during the election commission’s consultations with political parties on proxy voting for NRIs, BSP, CPI and Congress did not support the idea while the BJP was in favour of it. BSP, CPI and Congress felt that there was no guarantee that the proxy voter will vote as per the wishes of the actual elector. The parties also argued that the plan suffers from the problem of “trust deficiency” and violates the principle of “secret ballot”.

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    Dr.D.T.subhash
    Aug 3, 2017 at 11:59 am
    We have aadhar number almost 90 of Indian population. Aadhar based voting will facilitate NRIs as well remove money and muscle power. The proxy voting will not make the Electoral system transparent and easy.
    Reply
    1. M
      manus
      Aug 3, 2017 at 11:57 am
      Three years is a lot to understand BJP. If you look at the moves of BJP very closely, it makes things very clear that they are power thirsty, and to quench this thirst they need money. NRI's are a source of good income for the political parties. After granting voting rights to the NRI's, the step would be to include NRI's to purchase "electoral bonds". Another step would be to grab money from the NRI's in form of Income tax. NRI's will be asked to pay higher taxes on purchase or of property. All this is a master plan and the first step is to show the NRI's that the government cares for them. NRI's should think as to what else could the government of India benefit from giving NRI's "voting rights" With only 16 million NRI's around the world spread over 29 states and 7 union territories it is very clear that it is not "votes" they are looking for ! This is yet another Jumla of the BJP - BE CAREFUL
      Reply
      1. K
        kiki
        Aug 3, 2017 at 11:16 am
        One India one law.
        Reply
        1. B
          BM
          Aug 3, 2017 at 10:07 am
          There is a flow in this system. Suppose, I ask my proxy to vote to party "Y" and he votes for party "x". I will never find out. I don't know whose brain storm it is, but, it's better not to vote. Throughout people can vote by post, but, in India, everything becomes a problem.
          Reply
          1. P
            Paddy Singh
            Aug 3, 2017 at 11:42 am
            You are right. One can post a vote or vote through the embassy
            Reply
          2. S
            Seshadri Damodaran
            Aug 3, 2017 at 9:33 am
            This will persuade the NRI to scout for a real 'political' friend of his mould, besides the Auto-beneficiary of his remittances! Any way the present proposal is something better than nothing, as i see it, as an ex-NRI, then writing and defending Indhian values and events in overseas mediA
            Reply
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              Andrew Mohan Charles
              Aug 3, 2017 at 9:30 am
              It is time the opposition reached out to the young abroad to contribute to nation building here. The products of repressive communities miss their not being able to perpetuate their dominance over their children in alien lands. Their fantasy of a fantastic culture. of obedience whether due or not when unable to settle in like their young that has them back this nonsensical idea of freezing cultural growth and development and taking them back to comic book fantasies that belong in an ashram not to the world of the householder. It is for the young there to ensure that there is a mul ude here left behind to yet better their lot, if not economically, at least from the pressure of being led as domesticated by ancient practices that usurped the Right to Dominate for an accident of birth.
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                Devisahai Meena
                Aug 3, 2017 at 8:34 am
                Its for NRIs to diktat RIs. And its undesirable .
                Reply
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                  Devisahai Meena
                  Aug 3, 2017 at 8:32 am
                  Elected person can say Resident Indian voter that he was won by 1 or so -proxy-votes , so why to work for RI-votes.
                  Reply
                  1. B
                    BM
                    Aug 3, 2017 at 10:13 am
                    But, you don't mind NRIs depositing 80 billion dollars a year, so, you can buy rotis every day.
                    Reply
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