MEA Gives Consent To EC’s Proposal of Extending Postal Ballot System to NRIs
File photo of Election Commission of India.
In a bid to enable the Indian diaspora to cast their votes through a postal ballot system, the Ministry of External Affairs has written to the Election Commission giving its consent to their recent proposal to allow resident Indians (NRIs) to vote remotely through electronically-transmitted postal ballot system (ETPBS) in their country of residence.
However, MEA suggested that the poll body hold consultations with all stakeholders before rolling out this facility.
As per a report by The Times Of India, EC, in a letter addressed to the law secretary on November 27, had proposed that necessary amendments be made in the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 to enable the NRIs to vote through postal ballot.
It had further added that it is administratively ready to extend this facility in general elections to legislative assemblies of Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry” due in April-May.
The Election Commission in its letter also stated that it had been receiving several representations from the Indian diaspora to facilitate postal ballot as they were unable to be present at their polling area owing to factors like employment, education and travel expenditure. The safety protocols introduced after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic further strengthened their stance.
According to a report by The Times of India, the EC proposal allows an NRI to issue a postal ballot electronically after he intimates his wish to vote through form 12 to the returning officer, which must be received at least five days after notification of election. The duly filled up postal ballot and attested by its officer must be returned by post to the returning officer of the NRI’s constituency in India such that it is received latest by 8 am on the counting day.
The ETPBS facility is already extended to service voters that include members of the Armed forces and para-military forces as well as government employees serving abroad.