NRI VOTES … Fresh move by ECI to grant voting rights to NRIs in 2021 May assembly polls


NEW DELHI: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought nod from the central government to allow voting for NRIs in the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kerala.

In a note to the Union Law Ministry, the ECI said it is technically and administratively ready to extend the electronic voting facility to NRIs through the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System. While over crore of Indians live abroad, only a few thousand of them have so far registered as voters – mainly those who live in the Gulf region. Others have shown no interest so far.

Elections to these states are to be held in May next year. ETPBS is now allowed only for service voters – meaning those in military service and the personnel on election duty away from their wards where their names are registered. The government can give its nod by effecting a change in voting rules, and parliament approval is not needed for this, ECI officials pointed out.

Based on a request from the ECI and pleas from overseas Indians, the Union Government had, in 2018, introduced a legislation to facilitate NRI voting. This was passed in the Lok Sabha but not in the Raja Sabha before the end of term of the Modi government in 2019. When the government came back to power after the Lok Sabha polls, this matter has not been taken up afresh. –IHN-NN


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