Hi Priya, these are great questions.
1. Yes, all votes count.
2. No, you can select anyone from any country in the dropdown. Your residence does not negate the vote.
3. The links are requested only to help the selection committee take into account the nominee's contributions. There are so many people providing a lot of content; it's helpful for them to review highlighted contributions. All links are optional, but up to 6 can be added.