THE BILL : Parliament has approved voting rights for non-resident Indians in elections with the Lok Sabha adopting the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2010, However, the person will be able to exercise the franchise only if he or she is present in the constituency on the polling day. The new law will allow an Indian citizen residing abroad to enrol in voter’s list and
exercise his franchise even if he or she remained away from place of residence in India for more than six months owing to employment, education or otherwise.
SITUATION : There are around 25 million Indians living abroad and it is practically impossible to have 25 million people travel to India at the same time. Only 5 lakh people out of 25 million Indians with all flights completely booked by Indians takes 45 days (the time elections are declared and held). So the NRI Voting Right is NEGATED without resources in place.
CAMPAIGN : This campaign is about making amendments to “The Representation of People” bill, to be introduced in Lok Sabha, to have a provision for Absentee Voting Facility for Indians living abroad.
Available options for Absentee Voting Facility
a. Election commission by itself or thru Indian Consulates overseas posts the ballots to NRIs and then NRIs would post it back to the specified address
Short comings :
i. The election ballot is usually prepared 30 days before the elections
ii. It is a herculean task for election commission to post the ballot paper to Indians abroad
iii. Very cumbersome and resource intensive and incurs lot of costs from government of India
2) Internet Voting
a. Registered NRI voters would use internet to print ballot paper and submit online. Short comings: i. Technologically, we are not there yet. Hopefully we will be there soon to use this mode of voting.
3) Combination of Internet and Postal Ballot
a. Election commission (EC) uploads e-ballot to the EC’s website and NRIs can download, exercise their franchise and send it back as per the norms (could be attach attested passport identification page copy, proof of residence etc.) defined by EC. No major shortcomings. Benefits:
a. Reduces logistics and finance involved in mailing Postal Ballot from Indian Govt.
b. It’s a safe and secure way of voting by any Indian citizen residing overseas.
c. The time frame perfectly suits to send the casted ballot paper back.
SOLUTION : We strongly believe that for all practical purposes, option 3 - Combination of Internet and Postal Ballot is more practical, reasonable and feasible solution in current situation.
We, The INDIANS living outside India are eagerly looking forward to use our vote (freedom) for the next elections.