Out of nearly 11.4 million non-resident Indians across the globe, only 16,000 are registered as ‘overseas Indian voters’ in the country. Seeking to attract more eligible overseas Indians to register themselves as voters in the country, the Election Commission has now started to reach out to them. As part of its outreach programme, the poll panel has launched an online survey for overseas Indians to assess their level of awareness about the registration and voting process and to also gather opinion about their preferred method of voting.
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The survey, the Commission feels, will help it in not only identifying information gaps but also enable it to understand the preferred methods of voting which can be shared with the government and Parliament. An online competition is also a part of the initiative to engage with the target population. While the survey will run through November and December, the online competition will conclude at the end of the month.
Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said the poll panel wants to systematically address challenges that overseas citizens might face for which it is conducting the online survey so that interventions can be designed accordingly.
“Let your voice be heard. Express your creativity, share your dreams with fellow citizens,” he said.
The provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 were amended in February, 2011 to make special provisions for citizens of India residing outside the country to get enrolled as an elector in the constituency in which his/her place of residence in India, as mentioned in the passport, is located.
But many find it difficult to come to India to cast their vote. While the government had only last month allowed personnel of armed forces and central police organisations to receive their postal ballot through electronic means, it is yet to make the provision for overseas voters.
This will cut short the time as postal ballot will reach them within seconds. They now will have to take a printout, mark their preference and send it by post to their respective returning officer.
Another option being worked out for overseas voters is to allow them proxy voting — a facility presently available only to armed forces personnel.