The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved changes in certain electoral laws, which will allow Non Residents of India (NRIs) to vote through a proxy in state and national elections. If passed in parliament, NRIs would be able to exercise their franchise through a stand-in who lives in their (elector’s) constituency.
The provision of letting a non-resident vote through proxy was granted only to service personnel up until now.
However, the proposed terms of voting through proxy for NRIs differ from those of service personnel. For instance, voters in the armed forces can nominate their relatives as permanent proxy to vote on their behalf. But the Union Cabinet’s approval for proxy voting by NRIs have a caveat – they cannot nominate one proxy for all polls. Instead, overseas electors will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election, The Indian Express reported.
The proposal is an attempt to make this large community play an integral part in decision making, especially when such numbers can influence the outcome of state elections. Indian states with the largest number of emigrants are Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, and Gujarat.
The number of non-residents participating in the last national election was less than a percent of the 16 million who live abroad. This disproportion can be largely attributed to the travel costs associated with being physically present to cast their vote.