NRI Voting Rights

Even if an NRI is not residing in India, they still remain citizens of India. With this in mind, NRI voting in India was initiated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2010. NRIs can now cast their votes in Indian elections even if they have not resided in the country for 6 months. To make the NRI right to vote rules, and the NRI voting procedure in India clearer, we have gathered all the essential information you will need in one page, including whether e-voting for NRI is possible.

Voting Rights in India to Non-Resident Indians

Here are the voting rights that have been guaranteed to citizens of India as per the constitution. This applies to NRI voters as well:

  • Right to Know: all eligible voters in India have a right to know about the candidates who are contesting for election. All voters have a right to know the manifesto of the party, their total financial worth, and their criminal record if any. This right has been given to all voters under Section 19 of the Indian constitution.
  • Right not to Vote (NOTA): Voters are also granted a right not to vote, which will also be recorded in the system. This is also known as NOTA (none of the above) vote. This means that you have not found any of the candidates eligible for your vote.
  • Special Assistance to Infirm and Illiterate voters: Illiterate or infirm voters who are unable to cast their vote through a postal ballot can take the help of the electoral officer, who will help them record their vote.
  • Prisoner voting rights: Prisoners are not allowed to exercise their franchise, as per the provisions of the existing laws.
  • Tendered Votes: This only applies when a voter has decided to cast a vote, but a vote has already been cast in his/her name. In this case, you will have to provide a proof of identity, and your vote will be recorded on a special ballot paper, supervised by the Election Commission.

NRI Voting Registration

As an NRI, registering for the upcoming elections should not be very difficult. You can register online or offline through the postal system. However, there are certain important criteria you must meet as an NRI to be eligible to register for voting in India. These include:

  • You should not be a citizen in the country of your residence
  • You should be at least 18 years old.
  • You should have your original Indian passport that is valid.
  • The name enrolled in the electoral roll should match the name on your passport.
  • The page of your passport containing details of identity and address proof has to be attested by an officer of the Indian mission in the country of your residence.

Online NRI Voting Registration

  • You can register to vote online. To begin, visit the ECI website and choose the state or constituency you belong to.
  • Select Form 6A, and download it. Once it is downloaded, you should print the form and fill in the correct details.
  • Scan your completed form, along with scans of other required documents like the attested copy of your passport, your photographs etc.
  • You will now be given a chance to create a log-in ID and password. If your area is not covered by the online registration portal, then you will have to post your documents.
  • Should you wish to register offline, you will have to go to your nearest ERO in India and collect the form. Once you fill it in, you can send it by post. You will find the address in the ECI website.

Proxy Voting in India for NRI

Under this new scheme, proxy voting is allowed for NRI voters. The proxy ballot has been viewed as the most viable options for NRIs to cast their vote. Under this scheme, a relative or someone close to you who is residing in India and has a valid voter ID card can cast your vote on your behalf. However, ensure that you choose someone you trust as your proxy. Otherwise, they may try to take advantage of the vote and cast it as per their political agenda.

Alternatively, you can send your vote by means of the e-postal voting for NRIs. Under this, you have to register at least 6 months in advance. An official ballot will be sent to you. This is a confidential and safe way to cast your vote.

Can NRI Contest Election in India?

Until 2010, the prevailing rule was that NRIs could not vote or contest for election in India, if they have been staying abroad for six months or more. However, this rule was overturned in 2010 for NRIs who are staying abroad but have not applied for citizenship in any other country. The new rules that came into effect in 2010 do not specify directly, however, that an NRI can contest for election in India. However, when the new rules are read in accordance with the Representation of the People Act, it means that if you are eligible to vote in an election from a particular constituency, then you will also be eligible to stand for elections. Thus, The Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules, 2011 make it clear to us that NRIs can both vote and also contest in elections in India, provided they meet certain criteria.

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