A total of 11,844 NRIs have enrolled so far by post, for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But they will need to travel to their constituency in order to exercise their franchise on polling day. Interestingly, Kerala accounts for the bulk of NRI voters at 11,488, while Punjab with 138, and Tamil Nadu with 112, are way behind as a far second and third. NRI voter registration figures not only point to migration patterns but also indicate levels of political awareness. Uttar Pradesh for instance, the state with the largest number of general voters, has no NRI voters. Smaller states seem to have more politically conscious citizens than larger ones. At least 56 citizens from Puducherry living in France have enrolled themselves, while 27 voters from Goa are on the rolls. New Delhi and Maharashtra have 13 NRI voters each, while the rest of the states have just one each. After the ‘Representation of People Bill’ was amended in 2010, citizens of India residing overseas were extended a chance to register as voters. As of May 2012, the MOIA put the number of NRIs at more than one crore, and the overseas Indian community including NRIs, PIOs and OCIs at 2.5 crore. Any NRI is eligible to vote if he/she does not hold citizenship of another country, according to the Election Commission rules. An NRI can vote in the constituency that is mentioned in his/her passport as the place of residence in India. The forms to be filled and posted to the electoral registration officer of the constituency is available on the EC website, and an NRI will get a letter or SMS once his/her name is added to the rolls. Although the forms and photocopies of supporting documents may be sent by post, the NRI has to appear in person to cast vote. Postal ballot, online voting or even polling at local Indian missions are not yet an option.

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