Should you retain voting rights if you live in a foreign country?

Yep. His parents where not resident in any of the 18. As far as I know he has no plans to ever live in the US, but as he has no other claim to a different citizenship, he’s stuck paying tax to a country that he can’t vote in (making the US just like Saudi as he says).

Though I haven’t lived in the US for over ten years, I still file my tax returns every year. I am also still, at least hypothetically, subject to the rules that apply to US citizens travelling abroad (eg the laws against spending money in Cuba). So I feel absolutely justified in continuing to vote in federal elections.

My state of last residency (California) doesn’t allow me to vote in its own elections, and I can live with that. Similarly if I ever leave my current country of residency (Ireland), in which I also have citizenship, I won’t be allowed to vote in its elections. I probably would if I could. I reckon if you have a vote you may as well use it for the betterment of the place - since there will be an awful lot of people using it to make the place worse. But I wouldn’t feel the same sense of entitlement, since Ireland doesn’t impose any kind of requirements on its nonresident citizens.

ruadh: Why doesn’t California let you vote in state elections? I’m a California resident who has been living overseas for the last five years, and the state government knows it. They even mail my absentee ballots to me at my foreign address.

I’m a bit hazy on how some British things work, but do you get more votes if you pay more taxes there? Otherwise what does “paying taxes” have to do with voting?

As for the 15 year rule, this is also fairly silly. If you don’t feel you know enough about the political situation to vote, then don’t vote. Knowledge of current events, etc, shouldn’t expire after some set period.

FTR, I lived for a few years as a US expat, but didn’t vote in the one national election that occurred while I was overseas, as at the time I couldn’t figure out how to get a ballot without registering as a Republican. Pity for the Dems, as at the time my US home was considered Florida* and the election was the 2000 election. Who knew it would be so close?
*It’s actually a bit more complex than that, so I don’t want to try and spell it all out.

I suppose that could catch up to you sometime in the future. I really don’t see how, mainly because the feds would need to have proof of your worldwide income.

Apparently, it’s not a matter of convenience:

The convenience is that I don’t have to apply for a visa to travel to the U.S.

They mail my absentee ballots to me too, but only the ballots for federal elections. They used to send me ballots for state elections too but then a few years ago they reworked their electoral system and I received a form asking me to indicate my status. I don’t remember exactly what the options were but presumably one of them was something along the lines of “living abroad permanently” and that’s the box I checked. Since then I no longer get ballots for state elections. I could have lied and checked something else but I wasn’t really bothered about it.

As to how non-payment of taxes could catch up with you, the feds would certainly have proof that you hadn’t filed the returns you’re supposed to file if you earn income, and it’s hardly unimaginable that they wouldn’t be able to find out (either via their own spooks or with the co-operation of your host country’s authorities) that you had indeed earned income. I doubt they’d bother you with it as long as you continue to live abroad, unless you’re earning a really large income, but if you go back to the US and resume work there the gaps in your filing history may well draw their attention.

And also you go through the US not the visitors line at immigration. Big advantage.

I disagree that you should be allowed to keep voting in a general election if you’ve lived outside the country for such a long time, and continue to do so. 15 years sounds a little too long a delay. I’d put the cutoff for losing your vote at 10 years.

Usually, but not always. This was exactly opposite the one and only time I flew into USA via Logan Airport in Boston (never again!) There was no line for visitors and a huge line for Americans and green card holders.

True, but then I have to wait for my wife.

In a bar, with a beer. “Take your time, honey!”

And if you fly into the USA from Dublin, you’ll probably clear US immigration before you even board the plane (the Irish government basically handed over a set of gates at the airport to the US authorities) and you’ll all have to wait in the same line, whether you’re a US citizen, green card holder or visitor.

Obviously you don’t get more votes if you pay taxes. But if you don’t live here and don’t make a contribution to this society through txes, then why should you get a say?

Lack of knowledge doesn’t stop most people voting, sadly. I’d happily make the cut-off less than 15 years, but I’m guessing the assumption is that if you’ve live away that long, then your connection to the UK’s current affairs is pretty tenuous.

That’s odd. Actually, not it isn’t, I was thinking of the other way round. The UK allows my son (US Passport) to go through the British citizens line with me. Though that my be because he is a kid.

I rather disagree. One might live abroad (far abroad? Near abroad?) for substantial periods, but continue to have substantial interest in the national and policy. Why should a citizen be deprived of the vote on mere residence?

Now, there might need to be some kind of test for substantial interest after a certain time period - 10 year or 15 years, and perhaps indications of no longer have prime interest in the nation (e.g. taking another citizenship) should disqualify. Other it may be more of a pain to control for than it is really worth.

However, I see no particular reason why it is suitable national policy to disenfranchise a citizen who, for example, is resident (and has made no move to take citizenship) say across the Channel in Brussels for long-term business reasons.

As a citizen of the United States of America, I have interest in who is representing me although I physically reside outside the country. The government of the United States has certain obligations to me regardless of my voting record. It is therefore in my interest to take part in the selection of members of that government.

By the way, if the United States Congress were to consider a bill to disenfranchise all who reside out of the country, that would, of course, include those of us who are veterans of the Armed Forces. How well do you think that would sit with the veterans who reside in the US? I can easily see a good number of veterans voting against those congressmen and senators who supported such a bill.

Because if they really valued being able to have a say in their country, they wouldn’t have moved to a different one?

What about stuff like State Department workers? It’d be kind of absurd for them to be disenfranchised.

A bit of commonsense says that Soldiers and Foreign Diplomats are excluded from the “If you cared, you wouldn’t have left” rule.