New Delhi: Preferring proxy voting and e-ballots for NRIs, the Election Commission said the external affairs ministry is against any physical voting at Indian embassies, high commissions and consulates overseas.
“We are not opposed to anything, but will do anything that is feasible,” Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath said. He said a committee of officials from the EC, law ministry and MEA had gathered views from all sections before submitting a report to the Supreme Court.
Mr Sampath said any move to allow NRIs to use proxy votes on the lines of defence personnel and e-ballots will require changes in the law. “It will require a legislative framework. Legislators will have to apply their mind,” he said.
The CEC said if the proposal sailed through, NRIs would be sent ballot papers electronically, and they will have to return it to the poll authorities “physically”. Explaining why NRIs couldn’t be allowed to vote at embassies, Mr Sampath said the MEA felt it will be difficult as, in some countries, the NRI population could be equal to the local populace.
Another problem is that some of the countries may not be democracies and they may object to NRIs exercising their democratic rights.
Asked how EC would check misuse of proxy voting, the CEC said let the facility first begin for NRIs. “The committee is of the view that e-postal ballot, where blank postal ballot is transferred electronically to NRIs and returned by post, can be employed after validation of the process and pilot implementation in one or two constituencies and then be scaled up for parliamentary elections if found feasible, practicable and meeting the objectives of free and fair elections,” said the report given to the Supreme Court.