The Union Cabinet cleared a proposal to extend proxy voting to Non-Resident Indians (NRI) by amending electoral laws.
For overseas Indians, the Representation of the People Act needs to be amended to include proxy voting as other means to cast their votes.
While NRIs and overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in constituencies where they are registered, according to the proposal, they would also be allowed to use the option of proxy, which as of now is only available to service personnel.
An expert committee in the Election Commission working on the issue had, in 2015, forwarded the legal framework to the law ministry to amend electoral laws to allow overseas Indians use proxy voting. Data shows that only 10,000 to 12,000 NRIs have voted because they do not want to spend foreign currency to come to India and exercise their franchise.
Need for the introduction of proxy voting:
According to rough estimates, there is about 1 crore Indians settled abroad, of which 60 lakh could be of eligible voting age. Currently, voters residing abroad can only cast their votes in their respective constituencies. This regulation is seen as restrictive as only a few thousand Indians living overseas have registered as voters, the maximum being from Kerala. Of these, barely anyone has travelled to the country to exercise his or her franchise.