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NRI voting very much a focus, says Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra

Sushil Chandra, part of the three-member panel of election commissioners in India, said that only 1.15 lakh NRI voters had registered in time for the 2019 general election.

Published: 23rd July 2019 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd July 2019 10:00 PM   |  A+A-

Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra

Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra (File | PTI)

By PTI

LONDON: Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra on Tuesday called on all Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to register online to boost the numbers of such voters ahead of provisions being put in place for either proxy voting or voting through embassies and missions for them.

Addressing a gathering of the Indian Professionals Forum (IPF) at the Indian High Commission here on ‘Decoding Indian General Election 2019', Chandra said the ease of NRI voting remains a focus for the Election Commission so that all Indians anywhere in the world can participate in its democracy.

"I would call on NRIs to get themselves registered as a voter online. They are Indian and have a right to participate in the Indian democracy. It is very much a focus for us because their voice must be heard as it is their constitutional right to participate in the elections," he said.

Chandra, part of the three-member panel of election commissioners in India, said that only 1.15 lakh NRI voters had registered in time for the 2019 general election, which is not an entirely reflective figure for India's NRI voter base.

He indicated that besides proxy voting, the Election Commission is also looking at the option of using the electronic voting technique currently in use by diplomatic staff worldwide.

"We are searching for options, the proxy voting bill had been cleared by the Lok Sabha but lapsed in the Rajya Sabha. But we want they should be able to vote. We want to be ahead of each and every country in the world,” said Chandra.

At present, registered NRI voters have to be physically present in their constituency in India to cast their ballots.

The Election Commissioner also delved into the issue of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and the success of the system of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPT) to ensure complete accuracy and transparency of the country's seven-phase electoral process this year.

"These elections were absolutely transparent with the use of technology. India has taken the lead through EVMs and VVPAT and every person could see what he or she had voted for. Not even a single error was found,” he said, adding that random checks conducted after some complaints had proved the reliability of the system.

"Technology is always a big challenge and when someone loses, they want to blame the machines and not the people… It has been proved the most efficient and environment friendly system. Other countries have been sending queries about it,” the election official added.

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