Vastavam web: The Election Commission (EC) has approached the government to allow non-resident Indians (NRIs) to vote through postal ballots, a move that could be approved through a modification of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961 and would not require parliament’s nod. The EC told the law ministry last week that it is “technically and administratively ready” to extend the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) to NRI voters for assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry – all of which are scheduled for the next year.
As of now, voters who reside abroad can only cast their votes in their respective constituencies. The ETPBS is currently only available to service voters. Under the system, the postal ballot is dispatched electronically and returned via ordinary mail. The IE report says that to approve the facility to overseas voters, the government merely needs to amend the Conduct of Election Rules 1961. The EC’s proposal says any NRI interested in voting via postal ballot will have to inform the returning officer (RO) at least five days after the notification of the election. The NRI voters will mark their preference on the ballot printouts and send it back along with a declaration attested by an officer appointed by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country where the NRI is resident,” the IE report says. It is not yet clear if the voter will have to send the ballot paper on their own through ordinary post or drop it off at an Indian Embassy.