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The Week#


The e-postal ballot for NRIs could set in motion a process that allows all Indians to vote online

Some said it’s impossible, some said it would take decades, some said it’s a waste of time, some even made fun [of it]—but we had never given up.”

These words summed up Nagender Chindam's sense of achievement. On January 12, the Supreme Court allowed non-resident Indians to vote through a postal e-ballot system. Chindam, 33, an IT professional from Secunderabad who now lives in London, was at the forefront of a campaign to demand e-ballot rights for NRIs and was, along with another NRI, Shamsher V.P., a petitioner in the apex court in this regard.

The exultation is warranted. After all, the electorate involved is the size of Greece—one crore NRIs would now be able to vote in Indian elections. The e-postal ballot could set in motion a process that may finally provide the rest of us the option of using our computers and phones to vote.

To use the e-postal ballot, NRIs would need their passport number and, once registered, they would get the downloadable ballot paper on their computer. They can then mark their choice and post it to the returning officer. And, if it is extended to sections such as service personnel or officials on election duty, their registration, login and verification will be linked to their Aadhaar number.

The pace at which things moved was commendable. Even Chindam was surprised. When the Supreme Court, hearing the petition of the NRIs, asked the Election Commission if it was possible to give them an internet-based solution, the commission said “Yes, we can!”

About two years ago, long before it was asked to do so, the commission had begun exploring the option. And, as luck would have it, the commission got on board the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), which, at the time, was also working on such a project.




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