Expatriates voting

This thread links to this article , which describes how US expatriates are registering to vote in the next federal election.

As an Australian expatriate, I have tried to register to vote in Australian elections, and have been told by the divisional returning officer that as long as I live outside Australia, I cannot register to vote or vote (even if, as happened with the last federal election, I am temporarily present in Australia when the election is being held, and even if I still own a house in Australia which I can return to at any time – two of my children live in the house).

So what happens with other countries? Are expatriates allowed to vote in elections, or not?

Irish expats can’t vote in Irish elections. Dunno about any other country.

I think the US may well be the exception rather than the rule in this regard, and I think it might have something to do with the fact that US expats are still subject to US taxes, which is also exceptional … but I could be completely talking out of my arse.

In Germany, the federal election act says (section 12) that expatriates, i.e. citizens who have not been living in Germany for three months, are allowed to vote under certain circumstances.
Those are, in detail:

  • They are soldiers or government officials living abroad for professional reasons; or
  • they are living in one of the countries of the Council of Europe (not to be confused with the European Union) if they have lived in Germany for at least three months;
  • they have lived in Germany for at least three months within the last 25 years, if they’re living anywhere else in the world.

Canadians who are out of the country are generally allowed to vote; the two requirements that they have to satisfy are that they have physically been in the country within the last five years (no limit if you’re a public servant) and that they intend to eventually return. This means that I’ve been able to vote in the last two federal elections, although I’ve been pursuing various degrees in the States for some years now.

Not quite. There’s some rules governing it, but US citizens have a foreign income exlusion of $80,000 if they live abroad. To qualify, your tax home must be in a foreign country, and you must meet the residence test (be an official resident of a foreign country) or the physical presence test (that you’ve been outside the US for 330 days of any period of 12 consecutive months.)

I have an Italian friend who has been living in NYC for several years now, and his situation is quite hilarious. Italy doesn’t do absentee voting, so every time there is an election (which seems like it’s about once a week), he gets a polite little handwritten postcard from the Italian government, telling him that to make it easier for Italians living outside Italy to participate in the civic process, he can turn in the card for 50% off a second-class train ticket to Milan. Useful, no?

For NZers unless you are a diplomat, you can’t have been out of the country more then three years, in order to vote.

Oh, I just remembered: Serbians abroad can vote at their local embassy/consulate. But if there is no such thing (as for instance here in Ireland), they have no vote.

So forget what I was saying earlier about linking it to taxes.