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What are the Voting Rights for NRIs in India

Posted by Admin on November 24, 2014 | Comment

According to the provisions of Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2010, an individual, who is a citizen of India and residing in any foreign country for the purpose of employment, education or other commitments is eligible to be a voter in the constituency where his residence in India is located. It is to be noted that NRIs who have acquired the citizenship of any other country are not eligible to be registered as voters.

What are the Voting Rights for NRIs in India

Application for the Enrollment of NRIs in Electoral Roll

For the overseas Indians, the first step to get registered as a voter is to download Form 6A from the website of Election Commission or collect it free of cost from the Indian Embassies. He/she has to file an application in prescribed Form 6A before the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) of the constituency within which his residence in India falls. The individual can present the application either in person before the ERO or submit it by post.

The application must be accompanied by a self-attested copy of the passport, a passport size coloured photograph, and all other relevant documents mentioned in Form 6A.  

Generally, personal appearance of applicant is not necessary. If the individual has enclosed self-attested copies of all necessary documents along with the application, the ERO can include the name in the Electoral Roll after the notice period of seven days is over. The name will be included only after the ERO verifies the applications and accompanying documents. ERO is also the competent authority to consider objections to the applications, if any.

Inclusion of Name in Electoral Roll

The conventional method of informing the overseas Indians whether their name is included in the electoral roll is through postal communication. The ERO’s decision to accept/reject the application is communicated to the applicant by post on his address in the foreign country as mentioned in form 6A. The decision is also communicated to the applicants via SMS.

Also, the applicants can access the electoral rolls on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the state. Every electoral roll of the constituency has a separate section for “Overseas Electors”, where the applicants can find their names.

Changes in Electoral Roll & Necessary Communications 

For any correction in Electoral Rolls, a duly filled in Form-8 needs to be submitted to the concerned ERO. Moreover, it’s the responsibility of the overseas Indians to inform the ERO about the change in residential address in the country of his/her residence. Adding to that, the ERO has to be informed when the overseas elector returns to India, because in that case, the individual can then be registered as a general voter of the constituency where his residence is.

How does an NRI cast his/her vote?

After the inclusion of the name in the electoral rolls, an overseas elector becomes eligible to cast his vote in Indian elections. However, he has to cast his vote at the polling station in his constituency, in person.  The Supreme Court has been mulling an alternative. It has been advocating ways to give the non-resident Indians the chance to cast their vote through Indian embassies abroad so that they don’t have to face the inconvenience of travelling all the way to India to cast a vote.

After due deliberations with government and political parties, the Election Commission-appointed expert committee rejected the idea of opening polling booths at Indian embassies and voting through internet. The apex court has now sought the government’s view on the committee’s recommendation for introducing e-postal ballot and voting for the NRIs.