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NRIs welcome cabinet move to allow proxy voting

The Election Commission of India estimates there are about 16 million Indian citizens living abroad out of which about 70 per cent are eligible to vote. Photograph: (Zee News Network)

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Aug 08, 2017, 03.10 AM (IST)

The non-resident Indians(NRIs) in the US today welcomed the cabinet's decision to allow proxy voting for overseas Indians.

The government had last week approved changes in electoral laws in India to allow NRIs to cast their vote in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections while living abroad, opening the gates for non-resident Indians to cast their votes through "proxy". 

Earlier, only service personnel were allowed to vote through "proxy".

The Election Commission of India (EC) estimates that there are about 16 million Indian citizens living outside of which about 70 per cent are eligible to vote. 

While significant portion of Indians live and work in the Middle East, in the US the estimate range from 800,000 to 1.5 million with several thousand belonging to Punjab, Gujarat, Andra Pradesh and Telangana. An overwhelming majority of them are either university students or those on H-1B visas.
 
"We welcome this move," Thomas Abraham, chairman of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) told PTI.

"This is a very good move. But I have to figure it out, what is the process," said Sanjay Singh to PTI, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland.

The GOPIO also suggested that a proper representation must be provided to NRIs in the Indian Parliament with some suggesting Overseas Citizen of Indian (OCI) should be upgraded to dual nationality. 

The Representation of the People Act would have to be amended for the decision to be implemented. The move will have to be finally approved by Parliament.

The government has set up a committee to look into the logistics of the voting process.

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