Out of 10,000 NRIs from state, 68 register as voters – Times of India

India News
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Pune: Out of approximately 10,000 NRIs from the state, only 68 have so far registered as voters during the ongoing voter registration drive this year. In comparison, 100 voters each from Kerala, Puducherry and Punjab have registered as voters. As per the Election Commission, a total of 1,000 NRIs have registered themselves as voters.

With the Election Commission of India (ECI) not yet announcing “online voting” facility for NRI voters, many hesitate to register as “overseas voters’’, a state electoral official said.

As of now, an NRI can exercise his / her franchise if s/he personally comes down to India at the time of elections unless a bill to amend the electoral law to allow voting rights to NRIs is passed by the Rajya Sabha.

While the Lok Sabha has already passed the bill in August, the bill to amend the electoral law to allow voting rights to the NRIs is expected to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha in the upcoming winter session.

According to the proposal, NRI voters will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election and one person can act as proxy for an overseas voter.

However, election department sources told TOI that the government is concerned about the security issues relating to online voting system.

“Had there been a simplified process, the numbers could have improved. However, there are several issues. Even after registration we have to ensure that the concerned person’s address is correct. If online voting process is allowed, how can we be sure that he/she is not under any pressure to vote for a particular person and there is no proxy voting without our knowledge,’’ adds another official.

“If the NRIs register themselves as voters, they have to come down to vote. My children are planning to register as NRI voters and may even come down during the elections next year,” said Subhash Kulkarni, secretary of Non-Resident Indian Parents Organisation (NRIPO). He said that many of the members’ children have not registered as voters as the process has not been simplified. “Unless there is some easy way out or online voting is allowed, it is difficult for them to come down at the time of elections,’’ he added.

With a petition filed in the Supreme Court on the same, sources in the ECI stated that the government has informed the apex court that the bill to amend the electoral law to allow voting rights to NRIs will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha in the upcoming winter session.

Once the Bill is passed and enacted, over 25 million overseas Indians/NRIs will be able to vote through postal or e-ballots or other means.

According to the petition, 114 countries, including 20 Asian nations, have adopted external voting, which could be held by setting up polling booths at diplomatic missions or through postal, proxy or electronic voting.

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