NRIs slow on using voting rights

Despite the government of India offering the much-demanded voting rights to Indians living overseas, NRIs have been shunning away from exercising this right in the recent state assembly elections in India.

For example, not even one NRI has registered to vote in the recent elections in Tamil Nadu.

“Even though the EC had made the NRIs eligible to be included as voters and exercise their franchise, no NRI from Tamil Nadu came forward to cast their votes,” chief electoral officer Praveen Kumar told a news agency.

Following a long-standing demand by NRIs, the Indian government has extended the same voting rights to NRIs as are available to resident Indians.

NRIs shy away from voting in India

Any citizen of India, living outside the country, can vote in any of the state of central elections, by visiting their state and personally casting their vote.

Postal voting is not yet allowed, which may be a major stumbling block for many Indians living abroad.

Also the voting right is available to Indian citizens only.

The Global Indian magazine has prepared this quick guide to voting rights for NRIs.

I am an NRI. Can I vote in the upcoming elections in India?

Any person can vote as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • You are an Indian citizen above the age of 18 years
  • Your are otherwise eligible to vote, that is, you are not disqualified
  • You are away from India due to employment, education or otherwise
  • You have registered themselves as an NRI voter

How do I register as an NRI voter?

You need to fill out Form 6A and submit it to the election commission with relevant documents. Once the election commission receives the form and accompanying documents from you, you will be enrolled to vote. You can submit your form online through the election commission portal, through your local high commission, or by post to the election commission in your ordinary state of residence in India.

You can also submit your voter application in person when you visit India. You can submit it to the state election commission. However, if the application is sent by post it must be accompanied by a copy of your passport and all relevant documents mentioned in Form 6A attested by the Indian High Commission or Embassy in the country where you currently live.

What documents do I need to submit with Form 6A?

  • One recent passport size colour photograph, and
  • Photocopy of relevant pages of the passport containing photograph, address and valid visa

Where can I get the Form 6A?

You can either download it from the Election Commission website or download Form 6A and voter rules. The Form is also available free of cost in Indian Missions in foreign countries and in the offices of the Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) in India. Visit Election Commission website for more information.

How do I know the outcome of my application for registration?

You will receive a letter from the Election Commission or ERO, communicating the decision. Electoral Rolls are also available on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of the State concerned in PDF format.

I am now enrolled as overseas voter. How do I cast my vote?

As an overseas elector, you can vote in an election in the constituency, in person, at the polling station provided for the part where you are registered.

Can I cast my vote by post?

Not at this stage. The EC has not allowed the NRIs to vote through post. According to EC’s guidelines, if application (Form 6A) is sent by post with relevant documents, his/her name will be enrolled in the electoral list..


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