Expatriates vote from abroad unlikely to happen even in 2024 pollstext_fields
The Representation of the People Act Amendment Bill was passed in the last Lok Sabha in August 2018, allowing non-resident Indians to vote by proxy. However, it has not been passed in Rajya Sabha. As per rules, a bill passed in the Lok Sabha will lapse if it is not introduced in the Rajya Sabha before the expiry of the term of the same Lok Sabha.
The Centre has now informed Parliament that the government is not considering a new bill for proxy vote.
The Election Commission had informed the government that many petitions had been submitted by the expatriate community to provide postal ballot facility as it was not practically possible to vote in India during the election period.
In 2020, the Election Commission also placed before the Law Ministry a proposal to make the Electronic Postal Ballot System (EPBS) available to eligible non-resident voters, which is allowed only to military voters. But to implement it, the election rules should be amended.
The government has not taken any action in this regard yet. A few weeks ago, the central government informed the Supreme Court that it is thinking of ways to vote for non-residents and those living in other states without coming home.
Based on this, the Supreme Court closed further proceedings in a group of petitions related to non-resident voting rights. The central government's reply amounts to clariying once again that non-resident vote will not become a reality in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections either.
As things stand now, the Central government has not even experimented with the possibility of implementing online voting system instead of proxy vote.
At present, a non-resident whose name is in the voter list is allowed to vote if he is present in his constituency on the day of polling.
It is estimated that 1.35 crore Indians live in foreign countries. Majority of expatriates are in Gulf countries. Figures show that in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 25,606 out of 99,844 non-residents who were named in the electoral roll voted. Out of this, 25,534 votes belonged to Keralites.