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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

NRIs unlikely to get voting rights before Assembly polls

N.J. Nair

Union government yet to formulate regulations of Act


No guidelines on enrolment procedure

Mode of voting yet to be finalised


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) hailing from the State are unlikely to get a chance to exercise their franchise in the Assembly elections due in 2011.

But for passing the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, 2010 in Parliament and issuing a gazette notification granting voting rights to NRIs, the Union government has not yet framed the rules and regulations to implement the Act.

The State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) is yet to get a clear idea about the norms for enrolment in the voters list or the proposed mode of voting for NRIs.

The final voters list of the Central Election Commission will be published on January 5, 2011. Enrolment will continue till the last date of filing nominations, but the process of including a large number of new voters living outside the country has to be completed within a specific timeframe. Going by the present pace of events, completing the formalities, mainly framing the rules and regulations within a month, is a challenging task.

The NRIs will have to approach the embassies to enrol their names on the list.

The embassies should be duly equipped to handle the rush of NRIs seeking voting rights. Official sources told The Hindu here that the applications received at the embassies have to be despatched to the respective Chief Electoral Officers and then sorted and forwarded to the Electoral Registration Officers in all the 63 taluks in the State to check the credentials of the applicants. This is an exacting and time-consuming task and cannot be completed within two or three months once the election process begins.

Staff strength at the embassies and CEOs has to be increased.

It has to be decided whether the NRIs, like services voters, can be included as a separate section in the voters list. The mode of voting — proxy voting or postal vote — has to be finalised.

On permitting postal voting, clear norms have to be set to ensure that the votes reach the State in time so that counting will not be delayed. Similarly, rules have to be set to decide proxy voters as in the case of Army personnel.

On granting voting rights, NRIs will also get the right to contest elections anywhere in the country.

It remains to be seen how the government will decide on such issues. Though the Union government is planning to frame the rules within a month, it is unlikely to be executed before the next State Assembly election, sources said.

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