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Sitaram Yechury raises concerns over move for postal ballots for NRIs

Flagging news reports about the Election Commission mulling the facilitation of voting by overseas Indians/NRIs to exercise their franchise in the upcoming Assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Pondicherry, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury flayed the Commission for initiating the process without any consultations with political parties.

In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Mr. Yechury said the EC’s efforts to amend the rules to bring postal ballots for NRIs and overseas Indians without speaking to political parties is a blatant departure from “conventional modus operandi”.

Mr Yechury stated that his party is in favour of extending the voting rights to overseas Indians. The CPI(M), he said, had suggested the setting up of polling booths at our Embassy/Missions and other facilities in different foreign countries to permit Indian citizens to cast their votes in countries where they are currently residing.

Instead, as per news reports, the ECI is mulling on introducing postal ballots for overseas Indians, which they can dispatch to India “electronically”. Mr Yechury said ‘dispatching the ballot paper electronically’ is fraught with the risk of manipulation.

“Seen against the ‘physical verifiability of the voter as an inviolable principle’ for casting the vote, ensuring it in the context of an overseas/NRI voter through the electronic transmission of the ballot is clearly problematic,” he wrote

He also reminded Mr. Arora that in 2014 when the EC had first initiated the proposal to permit NRI voters to cast their votes, the Commission had held an all-party consultation. A bill to extend the facility of proxy voting to overseas Indians had lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.

By giving postal voting rights and not proxy voting rights, the ECI also gets to bypass the Parliament as this can be done by only amending the Conduct of Election Rules 1961, Mr Yechury pointed out in his letter.

Parliament as this can be done by only amending the Conduct of Election Rules 1961, Mr Yechury pointed out in his letter.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 11:23:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sitaram-yechury-raises-concerns-over-move-for-postal-ballots-for-nris/article33253373.ece

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