CHANGING ELECTORAL LAWS Govt Okays Proxy Voting for Non-Residents
Parliament will have to amend Representation of People Act
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.