Election Commission of India has proposed E-Postal Ballot For Overseas Indian Voters
After a long waiting The Election Commission of India has proposed implementing electronically-transmitted postal ballots for overseas Indian voters. The move comes as there are currently over 1.15 lakh overseas voters as of January 1, 2023.
The ETPBS system led to a higher turnout among service voters during the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The use of postal ballots has been recognized internationally due to the increasing mobility of citizens for work-related reasons.
However, logistical challenges need to be ironed out before implementing the proposal, and the EC is discussing this with the Ministry of External Affairs.
In 2018, the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha, based on the recommendation of the poll panel, to allow overseas electors to cast their vote in person or by proxy.
The bill was pending in the Rajya Sabha but lapsed due to the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
The Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) was introduced in 2016 to allow service voters to vote in elections. Under this system, registered service voters are sent postal ballots electronically, which they can download and mark their votes.
They then send the ballot to the returning officer of the constituency via ordinary mail, along with an attested declaration form signed in the presence of an appointed senior officer.
The postal ballot must reach the returning officer by 8 a.m. on the day of the counting of results. For NRI voters seeking to vote through ETPBS, they will need to inform the returning officer at least five days after the notification of the election.
Currently, NRIs or overseas Indian voters can register as overseas electors with the Election Commission of India (ECI) if they haven’t acquired citizenship in another country.
To vote, an NRI must reside in a constituency and provide their passport as proof of identity at a polling station. The right to vote for NRIs was introduced in 2011 through an amendment to the Representation of the People Act 1950.