CHANG­ING ELEC­TORAL LAWS Govt Okays Proxy Vot­ing for Non-Res­i­dents

Par­lia­ment will have to amend Rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Peo­ple Act

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

New Delhi: The Union Cab­i­net on Wed­nes­day cleared a pro­posal to ex­tend­prox­yvot­ing­too­ver­seasIn­di­ans. The­gov­ern­men­twill­soon­bringa­bill that will amend the Rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Peo­ple Act to make proxy vot­ing for NRIs a re­al­ity. Nearly 16 mil­lion NRIs will be then able to vote in Indian elec­tions by ap­point­ing an­other voter re­sid­ing in their con­stituency to cast their vote. Ac­cord­ing to se­nior of­fi­cials in the gov­ern­ment, PM Modi was very clear that gen­er­a­tions of In­di­ans trav­el­ling abroad were dif­fer­ent from the ear­lier NRIs.

“He has al­ways said there should be only brain gain now, no brain drain and that to­day’s NRIs were as Indian as­peo­ple­here.They­want­the­coun­try togrow.To­day’sNRIslovethe­coun­try, un­liketheyesteryearNRIswhowanted to just run away from the coun­try,” a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said. The de­ci­sion aims to make the small but in­flu­en­tial NRI com­muni- ty feel con­nected with the coun­try. “The num­bers are not an issue. In a coun­try of so many peo­ple, a few votes would hardly mat­ter. It is only about send­ing out that mes­sage,” the of­fi­cial said. At the mo­ment, NRIs have to fly back to In­dia to cast their votes, an op­tion ex­er­cised only by 12,000 over­seas vot­ers. A se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said the gov­ern­ment had con­sid­ered two op­tions to avoid this in­con­ve­nience: To send them bal­lot pa­pers elec­tron­i­cally and re­ceive the same back af­ter the voter posts it to the near­est em­bassy or con­sulate, treat­ing them as postal bal­lots. The sec­ond was to al­low vote by proxy like in the case of an op­tion al­ready avail­able to ser­vice per­son­nel in In­dia. The only con­di­tion is that the proxy voter should be an or­di­nary res­i­dent of the con­stituency one is vot­ing in.

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