UPDATED: NRI Voter Registration Begun in The US

NRIs to be Able to Vote Online Shortly

Updated: The Election Commission of India has sent over senior officials to major cities in the US to facilitate voter registration for its NRI electorate base. Indian Residents of Washington, DC, New York and San Francisco can now register as voters for India if they have an Indian passport.

The Supreme Court of India has directed the Indian government to ensure that electronic voting rights be granted to non-resident Indians (NRI) soon. With an intention to bring 16 million NRIs under the domestic voting purview within India, this is a major step to ensure they do not miss out on participating in the largest democracy of the world. NRIs already contribute electronically towards community development, welfare of the underprivileged and towards the socio-economic progress of India. This allows them to be able to have a say in their choice of government as well.

This has been made possible with a technology facilitated by the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and supported by the Election Commission of India. They are in the final stages of testing the e-postal ballot prototype for the registered voter opting for their choice of e-balloting. The process will involve –

  • The voter logs on to a designated website and then download their ballot through electronic media.
  • The ballot will be as per their constituency, given that they would be registered at the place of origin mentioned on their passport.
  • The voter casts his choice and marks the ballot.
  • Seal the vote in an envelope.
  • Note the voter’s credentials on the envelope.
  • Place the envelope in an outer cover/envelope.
  • Mail it to the returning officer via postal mail.

There is another prototype being worked on wherein both sides are going to be electronically dealt with and have the advantage and efficiency of speed and time. This will be implemented at a later stage. Subsequently, an e-booth with a defined electronic booth will replace this and NRIs will be able to go and vote there.

The anticipated downfall of this new system is that not every NRI may have access to technology who may still get left out of these new progressive ways. In order to counter that, other options being offered include–

  •   proxy votes,
  •   physical mailing-in of the ballot, or
  •   being present to personally cast his vote.

In wake of talks of Digital India and e-governance initiatives, this is a positive move towards integrating and facilitating voting among the 24, 348 already registered voters and encouraging the 16 million Indian diasporas to follow suit.

For additional tips for NRIs around the world, Path2Usa gives a comprehensive collection of information that provides resources and how-to guides.