Non-resident Indians (NRIs) keen on voting in this year’s general election could only do so if they had registered back home and were present in the constituency on the day of balloting. This meant that few could be part of the exercise. The Election Commission of India is now examining the Gujarat model of local body elections as it looks for options to enable NRIs to cast their vote from overseas. Gujarat implemented the country’s first internet voting initiative during the Gandhinagar municipal corporation elections in April 2011. A committee constituted by the poll panel to explore how best NRIs can participate in elections is studying the model.
… To make it easier for NRIs to vote in the country they reside in, the poll panel is considering four options— postal ballot, proxy voting, voting at an Indian mission or online voting. The Election Commission recently called a meeting of all national parties to seek their feedback on each of these options. The meeting was attended by BJP, Congress, CPI and CPI (M).
“There isn’t enough time to mail paper ballots abroad and get them back in time for counting. Indian missions do not have enough resources to organize voting. So we are essentially left with two viable options. One is to allow NRIs to cast their vote online or authorise one of their family members to vote on their behalf back home. Of these, the last one seems most favourable at this point,” the senior official added.
In Gujarat, voters have to register online and choose between voting through the internet or by electronic voting machine.