In a new announcement, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Friday, said that Non Resident Indians (NRI) will have to wait longer to be able to vote by postal ballots as the facility would not be extended to NRIs for the upcoming elections to the Assam, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and West Bengal assemblies.
The Election Commission had written to the Law Ministry on November 27, 2020 with the proposal of extending postal ballots to overseas electors. “The Commission is technically and administratively ready to extend this facility in general elections to legislative assemblies of Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry,” the commission's letter to the Ministry read.
Responding to a question on whether the facility of Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) would be extended to overseas voters in these assembly polls, Arora said, "No."
"As far as NRI voters are concerned, the commission (EC) has sent a very empathetic and very positive note to the Law Ministry over a month-and-a-half back over finding a way out for that. The law ministry referred it to the Ministry of External Affairs. I spoke to the foreign secretary also. They have responded in detail and they have said we should have a broad spectrum meeting of the stakeholders," he said.
Another EC official said extending postal ballots to NRIs would take some time as an amendment was required. Voting for the five assembly elections will begin on March 27, with West Bengal having eight phases continuing till April 29, while counting of votes will be done on May 2.