NEW DELHI: ‘Proxy’ voting and ‘online’ voting are two of the options before the Election Commission(EC),which is actively considering the prospect of bringing the non-resident Indians(NRI) within the pale of the electoral process. There’s a political divide, though.
While the ruling BJP and its NDA allies have no objections to the idea of online voting, the Congress, the CPM-led Left and the NCP opposed it at last week’s meeting convened by the EC. Their chief objection to making ‘proxy’ voting--till now a term used to describe electoral malpractice--a legal/viable option, is that it would compromise on the basic tenet, the secret ballot system.
If the EC were to legitimise ‘proxy’ voting for the NRI voters, it will allow them to cast their votes through a relative or an authorised person in their respective home constituency.
In the case of ‘online’ voting, the EC plans to allot a one-time unique identity code to an NRI voter, who has to exercise his franchise within a stipulated time. But the three Opposition parties are of the view that since it will not be possible to physically verify such a voting system it will be susceptible to manipulation.
The Opposition trio have also tried to impress upon the EC the need to either replicate the postal ballot system used for the Armed Forces or open polling booths at the various Indian missions to facilitate NRI voting.
In a related development, the poll panel also witnessed a presentation by Tata Consultancy Services(TCS)on online voting, which is under its active consideration. And the three-member panel headed by Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutsi,which was set up by the EC to look into the feasibility of online voting, had visited Junagarh in Gujarat during the recent Municipal polls there to witness the process first-hand. “While postal ballots delay the counting process, opening polling stations at the Indian missions do not appear to be a feasible option,” Zutsi said, adding, online voting or proxy voting are less cumbersome.
Kerala accounts for the largest number of NRI voters in the country. Of these, only 11,844 managed to get back home in time for this year’s LS polls, EC officials said. It was an SC directive to the poll panel, which granted legitimacy to NRI voting rights.