Postal Ballots for NRIs being contemplated

What is the News?

The Chief Election Commissioner has told members of the Indian community in South Africa and Mauritius that the facility to extend the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) facility to overseas voters is being contemplated.

What is the current voting process for Overseas Voters in Indian elections?

Currently, the Election Commission(EC) allows NRIs to register as overseas electors as long as they have not acquired the citizenship of another country.

But they have to reach their respective polling booths to cast their votes in person on voting day.

What has been proposed by the EC now?

In 2020,  EC had written to the Law Ministry proposing NRIs be allowed to vote through postal ballots following which the matter has been under consideration by the government.

What is an Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System(ETPBS)?

The Conduct of Election Rules,1961 was amended in 2016 to allow service voters to use the ETPBS. Under this system, postal ballots are sent electronically to registered service voters.

The service voter can then download the ETPB (along with a declaration form and covers), register their mandate on the ballot and send it to the returning officer of the constituency via ordinary mail.

The post will include an attested declaration form (after being signed by the voter in the presence of an appointed senior officer who will attest it).

How will the proposed ETBS facility for the NRI voters work?

In the case of NRI voters, those seeking to vote through ETPBS will have to inform the returning officer at least five days after notification of the election.

The returning officer will then send the ballot electronically via the ETPBS. The NRI voter can then register her/his mandate on the ballot printout and send it back with an attested declaration in a process similar to the service voter.

Source: This post is based on the articlePostal Ballots for NRIs being contemplatedpublished in The Hindu on 23rd April 2022

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