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Postal ballot facility for NRIs being contemplated

  • Published
    23rd Apr, 2022
Context

The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) urged Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to register as overseas electors.

  • A proposal on postal ballots for NRIs being contemplated by the government declared from a visit in South Africa and Mauritius by the CEC.
About

Background

  • As of now there are only 1.12 lakh registered overseas electors. 
  • Till now, The Election Commission of Indiahas made efforts to ensure that the electors who are unable to come to polling booth/ absentee voters are facilitated to participate in the electoral process.
  • The Election commission has urged the Law commission to make laws regarding the NRI voters and system of voting.

Present scenario in India

  • Persons with Disabilities (PwD), Senior citizens, Persons employed in essential services e.g., railways, state transport and aviation etc. are allowed to vote through the postal ballot facility.
  • There are two aspects of this issue viz., the creation of requisite infrastructure and suitable legal framework to facilitate the process.

Postal ballot voting

  • Postal voting is voting in an election where ballot papers are distributed to electors (and typically returned) by post, in contrast to electors voting in person at a polling station or electronically via an electronic voting system.
  • Postal votes may be available on demand or limited to individuals meeting certain criteria, such as a proven inability to travel to a designated polling place.
  • Most electors are required to apply for a postal vote, although some may receive one by default.

Steps taken In India for wider participation

  • On the legal note, the Law Commission made a recommendation to the Union Government (Ministry of Law and Justice) on 2nd September, 2019 following which the Government amended the Representation of the People’s Act, 1951 (RP Act), and the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
  • Salient features of these amendments are as follows:
    • A concept of ‘absentee voter’ has been introduced and defined for the elections;
    • ‘Absentee voter’ means a person belonging to such class of persons as may be notified, under clause (c) of section 60 of the RP Act, 1951 and who is employed in essential services as mentioned in the said notification, and includes an elector belonging to the class of senior citizens or persons with disabilities;
    • ‘person with disability’ means a person flagged as person with disability in the database for the electoral roll;
    • ‘senior citizen’ means an elector belonging to the class of absentee voters and is above 80 years of age;
    • These two categories of voters – ‘senior citizen’ and ‘PwD electors’ can vote either as absentee voter or as a regular voter on the poll day.

Representation of people’s Act, 1951

This act provides for the actual conduct of elections in India. It deals with the following matters:

  • Details like Qualification and Disqualification of members of both the Houses of Parliament and the State Legislatures,
  • Administrative machinery for conducting elections,
  • Registration of Political parties,
  • Conduct of Elections,
  • Election Disputes,
  • Corrupt practices & Electoral offences, &
  • By-elections.
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