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Step by Step NRI guide to Voting in India

Non Resident Indians with valid Indian Passport, who are living in various countries across the globe have voting rights in India. However, Persons of Indian Origin with foreign country Passport and holding PIO or OCI cards do not have any voting rights in India. As per the Ministry of overseas affairs, the Population of NRIs spread across the world is approximately 11379746 by the end of January 2015.

Click here for the Definitions of NRI and PIO

Demand for voting by NRIs

There had been a sustained effort on the part of NRI community to get voting rights in India. And in 2010, an amendment was made to Representation of People’s act to allow Non Resident Indians (NRI) to enroll at the place of their residence as shown in their passport. However, they could only vote by visiting the polling station. In other words, NRIs have to be present physically in their constituency at the polling booth to cast their vote in an election. By Election commission’s figures, about 114000 NRIs out of the large community of 11.38 million NRIs have registered themselves.

NRI Voting Rights in India

Current situation and the process for an NRI to register and cast the vote:

  • Currently any Indian citizen staying overseas but holding valid Indian Passport, and who has attained the age of 18 years by first January of the year, can make an application using form 6A to be enrolled as a voter in India in a constituency of his/her residence. The residence details are provided in the valid Indian Passport.
  • Download Form 6A from the election commission’s website. Form 6A is also available in Indian Consulates.
  • Fill the Form 6A as accurately as possible and as per the guidelines.
  • Attach a colored passport size photograph. The photograph shall be able to show the full face of the applicant and shall be taken with light background.
  • Self attested photo copies of the Passport pages which contain all the details of the applicant (NRI) including the picture.
  • Self attested photo copies of the Passport pages which contain valid Visa to the country where an NRI is based.
  • The completed form 6A and self attested photo copies of the Passport pages can then be sent to Electoral Registration Officer (ERO). One can find the addresses of Electoral Registration Officers (ERO) here. The completed application including the Form 6A and self attested photo copies of Passport pages can be presented in person before the ERO or sent by the post to concerned ERO.
  • If application is presented in person, then, one must carry the original Passport along with him/her.
  • One can also send the completed application to his/her relative in India and the relative then can present the application to concerned ERO.
  • ERO may verify the documents at Indian Embassy or High commission where the applicant NRI is resident.
  • Once the enrolment of NRI is done, he/she can cast the vote in election by being physically present there at the polling booth. In other words, an NRI will have to travel to the constituency in India to cast his/her vote.

Download Form 6A here

Proposed Solutions for NRIs to vote without actually visiting India:

In last 2 years considerable progress has been made by the Government of India and Election Commission as far as easing the process of voting by NRIs. And recently in January 2015, Government of India accepted the recommendations by the Election Commission (EC) that an NRI can cast the vote by way of e-postal ballots or proxy voting. In other words, NRIs are set to vote in elections in India without being physically present there.

Election Commission of India examined various possibilities for NRIs to vote without coming at the polling booth. And they rejected some of options such as ‘votes at diplomatic missions abroad’, ‘online voting’, and ‘Postal Ballot’ because of variety of reasons. However, NRIs can now vote by way of e-postal ballot and through proxy voting.

  • E-Postal ballot is a process in which blank postal ballot is sent to NRI electronically. The NRI downloads the E-Postal ballot with required security checks and formalities. Once the e-postal ballot is downloaded, an NRI can cast his/her vote and send the ballot to concerned ERO by post.
  • Proxy voting is a process in which voting is carried out through proxy that is appointed by the NRI.
  • For both the processes, an NRI has to first enroll for voting in his constituency which is described above in the section ‘Current situation and the process for an NRI to register and cast the vote’.
  • Both the processes are under trial. And Election Commission of India will take the rightful time to validate, test, and carry out the dummy tests before actually rolling out the service to NRIs.

However, there is all the likelihood that NRIs can cast their vote by way of e-postal ballots by 2024-25.

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