Explain the constitutional provision of "ordinarily resident"for voting while critically analyzing the the arguments against allowing proxy voting for NRIs.

Published: February 10, 2018

Article 326 of constitution-provides that any person not otherwise disqualified and has attained eighteen years of age and is ordinarily resident in a constituency, has a right to get registered in electoral roll and vote in elections of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly Elections. For NRIs, the requirement of the ‘ordinary residence’ in constituency has been relaxed in 2010 bestowing right to vote to them even in cases of non-residence in India but physical presence in the constituency is necessary for casting their votes.
On other hand, proxy voting refers to allowing NRIs to appoint a person in India who lives in their constituency to vote on their behalf. Proxy voting is only proposed / demanded but not allowed so far. Currently, only service personnel are allowed to vote by proxies who are appointed on permanent basis.
The proponents of proxy voting for NRIs say that its very difficult for NRIs to be present and exercise their votes in person. Some Indian states such as Kerala have 70% of the total NRI population and most of them are deprived of participation in the election process and exercising their basic right. The proponents argue that method of proxy voting is easy to manage as compared to internet voting or voting at embassy.
However, there are several strings attached to it. Firstly, allowing proxy voting for NRIs would violate the principle of secrecy of voting. Secondly, it cannot be ensured that the proxy voter would vote as per the wishes of the actual voter. Thirdly, the large number of NRIs may be induced to vote in a particular manner, which may affect the election results. Further, votes may be sold to proxies also.
In my view, all these are valid apprehensions and challenges to introduce proxy voting.
I think the leveraging technology for allowing voting rights is much more feasible than this.

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