Giving voting rights to NRIs not easy, says Chawla


Thiruvananthapuram : Even though the Manmohan Singh government is keen to give voting rights to non-resident Indians (NRIs), Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla says it appears this may not be an easy task.

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Interacting with reporters here, Chawla said the Election Commission wrote to the government last month about the issues involved in NRI voting.

“NRIs are settled all over the world. They come from various states and various constituencies. In big countries, there would be quite a number of places where votes may have to be cast,” said Chawla.

“The Election Commission will need to carry the voting machines to all these places and bring them back safely,” said Chawla.

He added that the commission will have limited time – from the date of announcing the list of candidates till the polling date – to complete the process.

The current rule dealing with a voter’s minimum stay in a constituency before being eligible to vote may also require changes, said Chawla.

Chawla said that currently voters in 82 percent of the country have an election photo identity card (EPIC) and their names appear on photo electoral rolls.

“We have taken Kerala’s efforts in achieving a 100 percent record as a role model and we expect that by the end of the next year, voters in the entire country will have EPIC and their names will appear in photo electoral rolls,” added Chawla.