Election Campaign in KeralaVoting rights has been a long-standing demand of for non-resident Indians. They have lobbied for it when politicians visit the Gulf countries for raising funds. As a result, many politicians have taken stands favouring voting rights to non-resident Indians.  However, the move, if successful would bring about multi-faced problems.

Some countries do allow their citizens staying abroad to vote. The Maldives set up polling booths in Thiruvananthapuram and London for their last elections. However, Maldivians staying outside their country are limited in number and providing for them would be easy for the Maldivian Government. Indians are in many countries and rushing electronic voting machines to those countries and getting it back in time for counting is a stupendous task.

Problems of authority:

The Election Commission of India will have no jurisdiction to conduct the polls in other countries except in the embassies and consulates of India. It would not be able to regulate campaign or monitor election expenses in other countries. Most political parties would be launching high pitched campaign in the Gulf countries, as there are many Keralites in those countries. However, not all countries are going to permit open campaigns. Where campaigns are allowed, there could be no limit to it. The Commission would not be able to prevent or take action against communally surcharged campaigns or paying of money for votes, even by anti-national elements.

Registration problems: Non-Resident Indians could not currently register as voters because the law requires six months residence in the country. Most Keralites abroad would not be able to register as voters unless this rule is not amended. Steps would also be needed to prevent anti-national elements and criminals who have taken refuge in other countries from getting registered as voters.

Even within country, where the Commission can exercise much power, registration of bogus voters is usual. If voting rights are opened to NRIs, bogus votes could swell. The chances of various malpractices too would increase, as the polling process may not the under strict vigil of officials and the media. It is to be remembered that the media could not operate freely in many countries. Democratic process without a free media takes away much of the sanctity of the process.

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