General elections 2019: What are your voting rights?

January 25, 2017 04:36 pm | Updated March 14, 2019 01:17 pm IST

The National Voters Day is celebrated on January 25 every year. On this day in 1950, the Election Commission of India was founded. The ECI observes National Voters Day to create awareness on voting and voter rights.

Here is what you should know as a voter.

Enrolling as a voter

A citizen can be enrolled as voter when he or she is 18 years as on January 1 of the year electoral rolls are prepared. The electoral rolls are revised once in five years as well as prior to an election. The Commission periodically does house-to-house enumeration. But the onus is on you to register as a voter.

Where to vote?

The Election Commission registers a person as a voter in the constituency where he or she ordinarily resides. When you change your residence, the EC has to be intimated. Enrolling as a voter in more than one location is an offence.

A non-resident Indian can vote in his/her hometown after registering as an Overseas Voter.

Voter ID is not mandatory for voting

The Election Commission provides every voter a photo identification card called Electors’ Photo Identity Card (EPIC). Along with your photo and address, the EPIC contains your electoral roll number, which enables the polling official to easily identify you. However, it is not mandatory to carry your Voter ID when you cast your vote. Other valid photo identifications, such as passport, driving license, PAN etc. are adequate to exercise your franchise.

Voter ID does not mean you can vote

A person can vote only if his/her name is found in the electoral rolls. If, for any reason, a name is removed from the electoral roll, the polling official will not allow the person to vote.

Who cannot vote?

When an Indian becomes a citizen of another country, he/she automatically loses the right to vote.

A person declared as ‘mentally unsound’ by a court does not have voting rights.

In case a person is found to be involved in corrupt electoral practices, his/her name can be removed from electoral roll.

A Presiding Officer can stop you from voting if it is found that you are impersonating another person. This is a punishable offence.

OCIs cannot vote

An Indian residing abroad with his/her name registered in the electoral roll cannot vote, unless he/she personally visits the polling booth. However, the government is looking at options such as proxy voting or postal ballot to enable NRIs to vote. Overseas Citizens of India, who are citizens of another country, do not have the right to vote.

The Election Commission has, however, recently introduced the option for NRIs to register themselves as voters through the EC’s portal.

Affidavits filed by candidates are public documents

At the time of nomination, candidates should submit details of their educational background, criminal records, and assets and liabilities. A voter can obtain copies of the nomination form and the affidavit filed by the candidate from the Returning Officer, immaterial of whether the person belongs to the constituency or not.

Right to decline

A voter can decline to vote. The person must visit the polling booth in person and inform the Presiding Officer. The index finger will be inked, the polling register must be signed but the person will not cast the vote.

This is however not similar to NOTA (none of the above) option, where the person exercise the franchise.

You can still vote if someone else has cast the vote in your name

The Rule 49P of the Conduct of Elections Rules allows the voter to cast vote using a “Tendered Ballot Paper.” The Presiding Officer will collect it and keep it separate.

Proxy voting, postal ballots are not for all

Postal ballots, in which a voter exercises his/her franchise through post is available only for people on election duty, armed force personnel, and electors subject to preventive detention.

Proxy voting is an option available for personnel in armed forces, police, government officials posted outside India. The person can authorise another residing in the same polling booth area to cast a vote on his/her behalf. This option is also available for wives of the above mentioned personnel, but not for the husbands.

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