A referendum to extend voting rights in presidential elections to Irish citizens living outside the State will take place in the autumn. It was initially thought the referendum would take place in May but it will now take place on either October 25th or November 1st. A Government source said of the decision not to hold the referendum earlier: “We want to win this referendum but Brexit means our system is very focused on everything that a “no deal” or extension of article 50 could throw up. This referendum is going have high profile debate and will need a strong campaign so the decision has been taken for the autumn.” Later in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed that Brexit contributed to the decision to delay the referendum. He said the poll would have been held along with the local and European elections.
Some 1,000 Tibetan in India have registered themselves with the Election Commission ahead of the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh. This has left many in the Tibetan community apprehensive about how this will affect their ongoing struggle for a free Tibet.
Information accessed by TOI from Tibetan settlements in McLeodganj, which is the capital of Tibetan government-in-exile, the Nanchen Tibetan division, Bir Tibetan division and Dege division in Bir Billing area of the state has seen most of the Tibetan voters registered for the upcoming polls. The total population of Tibetan refugees in this area is around 22,000, which is second highest in India after Karnataka’s Bylakuppe town. “Our only aim is to struggle for regaining our country. If we mingle with local political systems, there are chances that our people may be diverted from the main aim. There is no doubt that India has done more than enough for us but we can’t afford to deviate from our purpose”, says Sonam, head of Nangchen division of Tibetan settlement in Bir Billing.
The Government on Wednesday approved changes in electoral laws to permit Non-Resident Indians to cast their vote in assembly and Lok Sabha elections from overseas. If the proposal passes political muster in Parliament, NRIs will be able to exercise their voting rights through “proxy”. Currently, only service personnel are permitted to vote through proxy. However, the facility for NRIs will not be the same as that enjoyed by service personnel. For instance, voters in the armed forces can nominate their relatives as permanent proxy to vote on their behalf. But the Union Cabinet’s approval for proxy voting by NRIs carries a caveat: they cannot nominate one proxy for all polls.
Groups representing Irish emigrants from Britain, the US, Australia, Germany and Latin America have formed a “global coalition” to put pressure on the next government to introduce voting rights for Irish citizens overseas. In letters sent to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, the coalition, led by VotingRights.ie, has called on the next government to “end the current disfranchisement of one-in-six Irish-born citizens who are emigrants”. Ireland is one of only three countries in the EU, along with Greece and Malta, which does not allow its citizens overseas to vote. The new coalition claims that more than 125 countries worldwide have some provision to enable absentee citizens to cast a ballot from abroad. More than 250,000 Irish people have moved abroad since 2008, and “many of these emigrants are eager to return home with new talents to raise families and contribute to the strength of the nation,” the coalition said in the letters to Mr Kenny and Mr Martin.
Hundreds of South African expats will be unable to vote in this year’s general election because of an alleged government communications botch up. Voters living abroad will go to the polls tomorrow, exactly a week before citizens at home do so. The miscommunication has been attributed to a failure by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, and by the Independent Electoral Commission, to tell the expats that they must complete a form if they want to vote. The error, according to South Africa’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Jeanette Ndhlovu, has created a “problem everywhere”. “I’ve been in touch with my colleagues at other embassies and many other expats also failed to submit the VEC10 forms on time. It will not be possible for them to vote,” Ndhlovu told The Times. The form is a required notification to the IEC of intention to vote. It specifies where the voter wants to cast his ballot. The deadline for filling in the form was midnight on March 12.