Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is facing an internal Fine Gael backlash over plans to extend voting rights in presidential elections to the diaspora. An increasing number of Fine Gael Cabinet ministers are understood to be opposed to extending voting rights to all Irish citizens over concerns about the impact it would have on elections. Agriculture Minister Michael Creed raised his objection to the referendum directly with the Taoiseach at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. Other ministers who did not want to be named said they privately agreed with Mr Creed but did not speak up at the meeting. “It is a nonsense idea based on something Enda Kenny announced when he was on a visit to America,” a Cabinet minister said.Full Article: Ministers oppose extending presidential vote to diaspora - Independent.ie.
While the economic, social and cultural contributions made by the Kosovo diaspora for their home country is well-recognized, their contribution to the direct democratic process – namely, elections – has been met with continuous obstacles. Kosovo citizens that live abroad are entitled to voting rights as per the country’s constitution. However, experience so far has shown that the voting process for diaspora members is complicated and riddled with technical, administrative and legal snags. In the best case scenario, diaspora members from Kosovo faced many difficulties while participating in the voting process. Worst case scenario, it can be said that they were denied a right guaranteed by the constitution and laws in force. Yet, these problems have had no proper resolution, because voting from abroad is seen as a secondary issue in the debate for electoral reform in Kosovo.Full Article: Diaspora voting: infusing democracy in Kosovo - Prishtina Insight.
A native of Kunting village in Central River Region’s Sami district has said that Gambians in the Diaspora are equal citizens of the country and they should be given the right to vote in the country’s elections particularly in presidential elections. Kalifa Sillah said Diasporans are one of those who regularly contribute to Gambia’s remittance through foreign currency exchange and contributing to national development. During the first phase meeting of a two-week civic education public sensitization campaign by National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) in his community, Mr. Sillah said Gambia should now be advancing to provide voting right opportunity to Gambians abroad. The NCCE and CRC civic education public sensitization campaign is meant to prepare and set the ground for the public consultations across the country.Full Article: ‘Diaspora Gambians should have voting rights’ - The Point Newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia.
A referendum on extending voting rights to Irish citizens overseas in Presidential elections is planned for May 24th, 2019, the same day as local and European Parliament elections, Senator Billy Lawless has said. Speaking at a meeting organised by the Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA) campaign in London, Mr Lawless said he had been assured by Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, that work was progressing on a Bill to be put before the people in a referendum, asking whether they agreed with extending the franchise to the Irish abroad. “The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney and Minister for the Diaspora, Ciaran Cannon are very committed to getting this referendum over the line. They will do everything he can to secure a Yes vote. So we have the Government’s support.”
About 130 countries and territories around the world have some system in place to allow their citizens to vote no matter where in the world they live, but Irish citizens lose their right if they have lived outside the State for more than 18 months. Those who fall within that time limit must travel back to their home constituency to cast their ballot, as there is no system in place for absentee voting except in very limited circumstances.
The proposed referendum will cover voting in Presidential elections only. It is not yet clear whether it will propose extending the vote to all Irish citizens living in the North and abroad, or limit it to Irish passport holders only, or those born in Ireland, perhaps with a time limit after emigrating.
Full Article: ‘Emigrants have been denied the vote for far too long’.Full Article: ‘Emigrants have been denied the vote for far too long’.
One of the longest-standing unresolved political issues, the right of Greeks abroad to participate in elections, has gained new relevance recently, during a parliamentary debate in Greece, regarding legislation to change electoral divisions – and particularly to break the country’s largest electorate, that of the outer suburbs of Athens, into three divisions. The opposition proposed an amendment to the legislation (which also regulates municipal elections, linking them to the ones about the European Parliament), suggesting that every Greek citizen, registered in the electorate catalogues, should be able to vote at Greek embassy or consulate offices of their place of residency (the same right should be reserved for sailors, at the place where their ship is docked on election day).Full Article: Voting rights for Greeks abroad take centrestage on political debate | Neos Kosmos.
United Kingdom: Long-term British expats could soon win right to vote in UK general elections | The Parliament Magazine
Campaigners have welcomed plans to abolish the rule which bans UK voters overseas from voting in British general elections after they have been abroad for period of 15 years or more. They were commenting to news that the overseas electors bill had passed the second reading stage in the UK House of Commons. Speaking on Tuesday, Roger Casale, the founder of citizens’ rights group New Europeans, said, “This is great news.” He told this website, “The goal of abolishing the 15-year rule does at last seem to be in sight. I am happy above all for all Britons abroad who do not want to lose their democratic voice and the right to vote.”Full Article: Long-term British expats could soon win right to vote in UK general elections.
The Diaspora Voting Right Movement, a Nigerian Group based in the United Kingdom, on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to legalise Diaspora voting. Dr Philip Idaewor, the Convener of the group, said on the telephone from London that the clamour for Diaspora voting had been on for more than a decade. “ As women celebrate 100 years of voting rights in the United Kingdom, Nigerians in the Diaspora renew call for the right to vote in elections in Nigeria,” he said.Full Article: UK-based Nigerian group makes case for Diaspora voting - Vanguard News.
The dream of Nigerians in the diaspora to participate in the country’s electoral process may soon be realised, going by the words of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu. He said the commission had written the National Assembly on the need to thinker with the enabling law, to allow Nigerians living outside the country to vote. Yakubu spoke yesterday with the Sudanese ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed, who was at INEC’s headquarters to deliver a letter of invitation to him. There are about 10 million Nigerians in Sudan under two categories- Sudanese of Nigeria origin and Nigeria migrants in Sudan.Full Article: 'INEC waiting for amendment of law on diaspora voting' - The Nation Nigeria.
Speakers at a programme here stressed for a provision wherein the Nepali migrant workers abroad could cast their ballots back home by any means. At an interaction programme themed on the voting rights of the migrant workers and organized by People Forum in the capital city, they also suggested the concerned authorities to consider the ways for the Nepali migrant workers off-shore to help them exercise their franchise in the next local level election to be held after five years. There are a total of 115 countries in the world having provisions for their fellow citizens in the foreign soil to vote, they shared recommending a system wherein the Nepali migrant workers could cast vote at Nepali diplomatic missions from the respective countries they work in.Full Article: My Republica - Stakeholders demand voting rights for migrant workers.
Despite the Representation of the People Act allowing a Non Resident Indian (NRI) the right to enrol as a voter in India, he/she is not allowed to vote through postal ballots (like defence personnel) or through a more modern e-voting system. This denied them their fundamental rights. On Friday (July 14) the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Centre for this lapse and gave the government a week to decide whether the Act would be amended to allow such people to vote. The bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud studied a report of a panel headed by Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi which said that the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Centre were, in fact, agreeable to the issue, but action has been missing in this regard.Full Article: Postal ballots for NRIs could be a reality -India Legal.
Timor-Leste’s electoral commission is giving some Timorese Australians the chance to vote in the country’s upcoming elections for the first time since independence. Citizens living in Darwin and Sydney will be part of the trial, which allows them to vote without flying back to Timor-Leste. In 1975, Darwin resident Dulcie Munn fled Timor-Leste and has not voted since the country’s independence referendum in August 1999. “That’s 18 years ago,” she said. “To be able to participate again this time, casting our vote for the future of our nation Timor-Leste, is quite important.”Full Article: Timorese Australians given chance to vote in Timor-Leste elections - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
Nigeria: Electoral Commission constitutes diaspora voting, electoral constituencies committees | BusinessDay
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has constituted a 10-member committee on the Review of Diaspora or Out-of-Country Voting. Also constituted, according to the commission’s daily bulletin issued on Tuesday in Abuja are eight-member committee for the Review of Electoral Constituencies and committee for Review of Polling Units and Registration Areas. It said that other committees set up included those on Review of the Suppressed Constituencies and Review of GIS Laboratory. The commission explained that the committees were constituted as part of its effort at improving the electoral process, adding that the committees were chaired by its National Commissioners.Full Article: INEC constitutes diaspora voting, electoral constituencies committees - BusinessDay : News you can trust BusinessDay : News you can trust.
Long before Billy Lawless became the first expatriate to serve in the Irish Senate, he was a regular guest at a uniquely Irish event known as the “American wake.” A full-blown going-away party held in a small Irish village, this occasion earned its dour name “because Johnny or Mary were going to the United States and that was probably the last we’d ever see of them,” said Mr. Lawless, a Chicago restaurateur who grew up on the outskirts of Galway. “But that day is gone now. Everything has changed.” Though emigration once implied a dramatic severing of ties, today’s expats are remaining more engaged than ever with the political affairs of their home countries, following local news on the internet and voting from abroad. In a more profound break with old patterns, expats like Mr. Lawless are even taking on political roles in their native countries. Most nations, including 23 of 28 European Union member states, now allow some form of voting for non-resident citizens, said Jean-Thomas Arrighi, a political scientist specializing in the issue at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. Thirteen countries have gone further, establishing “external constituencies,” with representatives directly elected by citizens abroad.Full Article: Meet Billy Lawless, the Irish Expat Senator Who Can’t Vote - Expat - WSJ.
The Greek parliament last month (21 July) approved by a simple majority government’s proposed changes to the electoral system, with 179 votes in favor, 86 against, and 16 lawmakers abstaining. Among other provisions, Greek lawmakers decided to lower the voting age, allowing 17-year-olds to vote in the next general elections. According to the new electoral law, about 130,000 17-year-olds are expected to participate in the next national election. For the Syriza-led government, this move will enforce youth participation. But the opposition parties do not share such a view and believe that Greek premier Alexis Tsipras is trying to “cheat” young people. But the coalition government rejected the opposition’s proposal to grant voting rights for Greeks living abroad.Full Article: Greek government backs lower voting age but doesn’t offer expats vote – EurActiv.com.
Ireland: Referendum in Ireland on whether Irish abroad should have voting rights at home looks likely | Irish Post
A referendum is likely to be held in Ireland asking the electorate whether millions of Irish living abroad should have a vote in the next Presidential election. A spokesman for the Department of the Taoiseach told The Irish Post why a referendum was necessary: “Any such vote granted to those not living in the Republic would require a change in the constitution. This in turn needs a referendum to enact such a change.” The department confirmed that discussions have been entered into by the Minister for the Diaspora Joe McHugh. However, no date had been fixed for any referendum and neither had the exact wording of any such question been formulated.Full Article: Referendum in Ireland on whether Irish abroad should have voting rights at home looks likely - Irish Post.
We remember the long lines at ports and airports when Irish emigrants, at great personal cost, came home to vote in the marriage equality referendum, in May 2015. The sense was of a lost tribe returning to its roots and having a say in a critical decision for the Irish people. The Irish government did not make it easy. Polling stations could have been set up in embassies and consulates, a form of postal voting could have been introduced. Instead, many trekked thousands of miles, from as far away as Australia and California, to make their vote count. Yet, as Washington expert Kevin Sullivan wrote, only about 66,000 of the 280,000 who left after the Celtic Tiger collapsed were eligible to vote leaving the emigrant Irish with a much diminished voice when it came to the battle over human rights for all.Full Article: Voting in Ireland’s general election 2016 - No Emigrants Need Apply - IrishCentral.com.
The Government is considering extending voting rights to Irish emigrants for three years after they leave the country without holding a referendum on the issue, the Minister for Diaspora Affairs has said. Under existing electoral legislation, Irish citizens are entitled to vote for 18 months after they leave the country, if they intend to return to live in Ireland within that timeframe. Speaking at the first Global Irish Civic Forum at Dublin Castle today, Jimmy Deenihan said there’s a possibility this could be extended to 36 months “without going to the people”.Full Article: Emigrants could get voting rights for three years, Deenihan says.
Ireland: As Ireland Voted For Same-Sex Marriage, Thousands of Expats Came #Hometovote | Wall Street Journal
We woke up on Saturday morning, turned on our radios, and checked our Facebook and Twitter accounts. It was a landslide. Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. With 60.5% of the population coming out to vote, it was the largest turnout for a referendum in recent years and, based on the final count, more than 62% of the country voted ‘yes.’ The ‘no’ side conceded by 10 a.m. “Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done,” one prominent ‘no’ campaigner tweeted. But it wasn’t as simple as that for us. For the gay people of Ireland, this was our lives. And the high turnout across the country proved that, with thousands of expats returning home.Full Article: As Ireland Voted For Same-Sex Marriage, Thousands of Expats Came #Hometovote - Expat - WSJ.
For the last nine years I have had the privilege of being the chairman of the Washington Ireland Program (WIP), a well-established leadership programme that brings 30 young future leaders from the Republic and Northern Ireland to Washington, DC every summer for two months. More than 300 Irish university students annually apply to the WIP programme. The selection process is fair but rigorous and only one in 10 applicants makes the cut. Every year there are several gay students on the programme. These young people are idealistic, patriotic, full of spark and intellectual curiosity – just the type of leaders that Ireland will need in the coming decade. They are passionate about equality and are working hard to turn out a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum with their many straight friends. In London, Lorcan O Cathain, a WIP graduate, has organised “Change Ireland”, which is raising money to help Irish voters get back to Ireland in time to vote on the 22nd. What a valiant effort to get around Ireland restrictive voting laws.Full Article: Who won’t vote in the referendums? The exiled children of Ireland.