Ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections this year, the government in its endeavour to encourage more voters to exercise their franchise is trying to ease out the electoral registration process, not only for citizens but also for servicemen and NRI voters. A huge chunk of votes get wasted every election as people away from their constituency could not exercise their franchise.
The option of service vote was already available for servicemen posted abroad. But now, overseas voters can also soon cast their votes through proxy voting if a bill in this regard which is pending in Rajya Sabha is cleared this budget session.
Here is a look at the process of servicemen and NRI voting in India:
Who can enroll as a Service voter: A person who is in the Armed Forces of India, or belongs to the Assam Rifles, CRPF, BSF, ITBF; GREF in Border Road Organisation; Central Industrial Security Force or is employed under the Indian government in a post outside the country or is a member of the Armed Police Force of a state and serving outside the state can enroll as a service voter.
How to enrol as a Service voter: After the voter finds out the name of the constituency that he/she belongs to, they can fill up the enrollment form, Declaration form and then submit it to the Record or Nodal officer. This will ensure that the service voter’s spouse will be enrolled on their behalf as mentioned in the declaration. Alternatively, serviceman can also opt to enrol as a general elector at the place of posting, if it’s a peace posting.
Things to remember for a service voter: While a spouse can be declared as a service voter, a son/daughter cannot be enrolled. Only one person can be enrolled on an electoral roll, once declared by the serviceman that he/she is not a general elector.
How can the service voter cast their vote: The Returning officer of the constituency sends the service voter the postal ballot in which the service voter can record their vote and seal the cover. The voter has to sign the declaration in Form 13A after which the Commanding officer of the unit will attest the voter’s signature which needs to be given to the Returning Officer by post or messenger.
Steps of enrollment for overseas elector or NRI voter
An NRI voter is the one who is a citizen of India but is absent from the native country due to employment, education, etc and has not acquired citizenship of any other country, thus being eligible to be registered as a voter in the address mentioned in the passport.
How to enrol as an NRI voter: After an NRI traces the polling station and gets the contact details of Election officers in the area, they can fill up Form 6A online on http://www.nsvp.in or from the ECI website and upload the required documents showing proof which can either be submitted via post or in person.
The requisite documents: One recent passport size photograph, self-attested photocopies of the relevant pages of the passport and valid visa endorsement.
After the documents are submitted, for the verification process, a Booth Level Officer visits the home address mentioned in the passport and in case of declaration for verification, it is sent to the concerned Indian Mission. The decision is then communicated by post and through SMS, apart from which electoral rolls are also available on the ECI website under the “Overseas Electors” section.
How to vote: The overseas elector is not issued an EPIC card, and will be allowed to vote in person at the polling station on production of original passport. The bill for proxy voting which allows NRI voters to exercise their right through e-postal ballots is yet awaiting the small window for passage in Rajya Sabha.