A British expat who took a test case to the European Court of Human Rights to try to secure the right to vote in UK general elections has lost the case. Harry Shindler, 93, has lived in Italy since he retired from the army in 1982 argued that he should be allowed to vote in UK elections as he still has strong ties to the country. Currently anyone who has lived abroad for more than 15 years cannot vote in a general election in the UK but Shindler claimed that this breached his human rights. However, the court rules that it is entirely appropriate for the UK to have such conditions and said that there should always be ‘room for manoeuvre’ over eligibility for voting rights. It is an issue that is estimated to affect around a million British expats. The rules mean that expats can vote only in for general elections for a certain time but they can vote if they move back to the UK.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has decided that 4 million overseas Pakistani’s will not be able to exercise their right to vote from their country of residence; meanwhile election commission has said that overseas Pakistanis could use right of vote after returning to Pakistan. It was also decided during the meeting, that voting will take place again, at polling stations reserved for women, where voter turn out is less than 10 percent.
The Central Election Commission (CEC) has prolonged deadline for registration of Georgian citizens living abroad from September 10 to September 13. In order to cast ballot in the October 1 parliamentary elections, overseas voters have to undergo registration at the polling stations opened in Georgian embassies or consulates in 32 countries. The registration requires no proof-of-residency and will be possible by submitting, either personally or through an authorized person, ID cards to the Georgian embassies or consulates where the polling stations are located.
Canada: Law stripping voting rights from Canadian ex-pats unconstitutional, legal challenge argues | National Post
A law stripping voting rights from more than a million expatriate Canadians who have lived abroad for more than five years should be struck down as unconstitutional, according to a legal challenge served on the federal government Tuesday. The new application, filed in Ontario Superior Court on behalf of two Canadians living in the United States, argues the five-year rule in the Canada Elections Act is arbitrary and unreasonable. “I was very surprised to learn that I have no voting rights, that I have no capacity to interact with my government formally, that there’s no one representing me,” said Gillian Frank, 33, who works in Brooklyn, N.Y. “My sense of being disenfranchised and the fundamental unfairness of it all motivated me (to file the suit).”
Dominican Republic: New York Could Decide the Dominican Republic’s Presidential Elections | Fox News
New York is shaping up to become a swing state in this year’s presidential election — not in the presidential election between Barack Obama and the all-but-confirmed Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but the one in the Dominican Republic. Thanks to a law passed in 1997, expatriate Dominicans no longer have to fly to the country’s capital of Santo Domingo to vote in presidential elections. Dominicans voted locally for the first time in 2004 and tens of thousands of Dominican expatriates registered to vote for the 2012 contest – making New York one of the island nation’s most important constituencies in the neck-and-neck election scheduled for May 20. “This quantity of voters is decisive,” said Víctor Sepúlveda, the international coordinator for the leftwing Partido Revolucionario Dominicano. “They can decide the elections.”
Egypt’s first post-revolution presidential poll will technically begin on Friday, as millions of Egyptians living abroad begin casting ballots for Egypt’s next head of state. Egyptians residing overseas, who number between five and six million, will cast votes for one of 13 approved candidates in Egypt’s first presidential election since the ouster early last year of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak. Many analysts say that Egyptian expatriates were not given enough time to study the candidates’ various electoral programmes, noting that they would begin voting only 12 days after the official launch of presidential campaigning. Many expats, meanwhile, are finding it difficult to follow candidates’ respective campaigns from abroad, or don’t possess the national identification cards required to cast ballots. After 30 years of Mubarak-era autocracy, during which most national elections were rigged, fair and democratic elections are a novelty for Egypt. The idea that their voices will actually count has stirred up strong feelings in many Egyptians, who espouse opinions as diverse as the candidates they are expected to vote for. And, according to various Ahram Online surveys, Egyptians living abroad are no different.
The Pentagon office with responsibilities for assisting U.S. military and civilian overseas voters is issuing a new ballot-request form that requires civilian voters to make an all-or-none declaration either that they plan to return to the United States or have no intent of ever doing so. Expatriate groups say the choice is confusing and unfair, carries potential tax ramifications and could depress voting in ways that might affect close elections in November. The new form, the Federal Post Card Application, is issued by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the agency legally charged to assist all overseas voters. It resides in the Pentagon. The form is used to help voters abroad register and obtain ballots. In the past, the form allowed a less absolute response — that the voter was either residing abroad “temporarily” or “indefinitely” — but the new form leaves civilian voters only these choices: “I am a U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S., and I intend to return,” or “I am a U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S., and I do not intend to return.” The Pentagon office says it needs the information to help election officials decide whether to send out just federal ballots or federal and local ballots. But expatriate groups say this forces people into a choice they do not want, and in some cases are unable, to make.
On March 15, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign office rushed out a two-minute video message to French overseas voters, seeking to end a kerfuffle over his proposal to tax citizens living abroad. The message from Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Sarkozy’s campaign spokeswoman, sought to assure them that the new levy he’d announced three days earlier would only affect a small number of tax exiles. “Expatriates don’t have to worry,” she said. “You represent France abroad and the fruits of your labor won’t be affected.” Sarkozy isn’t the only one courting the 2.5 million French living overseas. Socialist contender Francois Hollande campaigned Feb. 29 in London, whose 300,000 French inhabitants would make it France’s sixth-largest city. Hollande followed in the footsteps of Sarkozy, who visited “Paris-on-Thames” in the 2007 campaign. The number of overseas French has doubled in the past decade, forcing candidates to pay them greater attention.
Nurul Syaheedah Jes Izman, 27, a graduate of New York University, lives in New Jersey and works on Wall Street as a financial analyst. Though she has spent her college years and all of her working life in the United States, she closely follows political developments in her native Malaysia, reading Malaysian news Web sites every day and talking with friends and family back home about the issues. But under current Malaysian law, Ms. Nurul Syaheedah will not be able to vote in the next election, widely expected this year, unless she makes the 23-hour trip home. The only Malaysians living overseas who are allowed to vote by absentee ballot are government workers, military personnel and full-time students and their spouses. “The right to vote is a basic right of all citizens,” Ms. Nurul Syaheedah said in an e-mail. “No one should be disenfranchised in this time and age, even from a different location overseas. We are all rightful stakeholders in our nation.”
The clock is ticking as the registration deadline fast approaches for Mexican expatriates to vote in their country of origin’s presidential election this year. Although Mexican election officials are confident a late rush of applications will mean greater absentee participation than in the 2006 election, preliminary reports of the number of applications received indicate few expatriates will vote in the 2012 race.
According to Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), 14, 776 voter registration applications had been received as of December 20. That’s out of a potential voter pool of an estimated four million migrants. Opened in October, the registration window for Mexicans living abroad closes on January 15-more than four months before the July election.
With the election date in Ireland finally set for February 25, Irish people are gearing up for what is one of the most significant general elections in the history of the State. Party manifestos have been drawn up, campaigns are being rolled out and soon the entire country will be littered with election posters as every available lamppost in Ireland becomes a platform for a political mantra.
But as people cast their ballot papers, a universal murmur will echo around the world as the countless number of Irish emigrant voices go unaccounted. Under current Irish law, if you are an Irish citizen living abroad you cannot be entered onto the register of electors. Postal votes are limited to Irish diplomats and army officials stationed abroad.
Hundreds of thousands of emigrants who have recently left Irish shores forfeited their right to vote in elections at home upon departure. For people who have emigrated within the last 18 months, and remain registered at their old address, the only option available is to fly home to vote.
The letter was sent from the Foreign Office to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, in relation to a case brought against the UK by expat Harry Shindler. Mr Shindler, a 90-year old World War Two veteran who lives in Italy, believes that the UK’s current policy of depriving expats of their vote after 15 years spent abroad is discriminatory, and the ECHR is currently considering his claim.
In the letter, a spokesman for the Government said that it stood by the opinion that the “applicant is not a ‘victim’, according to principles established in the case-law in the court” and argued that if Mr Shindler wished to vote, “it was open to him to take Italian citizenship and acquire a right to vote in elections to the Italian national parliament.”