By Noreen Bowden | September 29, 2013
At the Constitutional Convention in Dublin yesterday, international comparisons of voting were presented. One of the points raised was that in a 2007 study, there were 14 countries that allowed their expats to vote only in presidential elections. Those countries were:
- Central African Republic
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Dominican Republic
In keeping with the global trend of expanding the franchise for expats, however, several of those countries have added new rights for expats. This is not a definitive list but countries that in 2007 allowed only a presidential vote but now allow votes in additional types of election include:
Ecuador – a new constitution in 2008 allowed votes for representation in the national assembly, along with mayors and governors. There are six dedicated representatives in the national assembly.
Dominican Republic – expats now have votes in the Chamber of Deputies. There are two regional deputies reserved for Dominicans living in the Carribean and Latin America, 2 for Europe, 3 for Canada and the US.
Tunisia – Tunisian expats now vote for 18 seats in the 218-seat assembly.
There was also something missed at yesterday’s discussions – the distinction between out-of-country voting and the right for expats to exercise their franchise if they return home. Ireland does not allow emigrants to stay on the voting register if they intend to be away for more than 18 months. There is no legal channel for them to come home to vote.
In many other countries that have no system of absentee balloting, however, non-residents are welcome – and sometimes given assistance with travel arrangements. These include:
Lebanon – tens of thousand were reported to have returned home to vote in 2009.
Israel has no absentee ballot but Israeli citizens can fly home to vote.
Zimbabwe – The diaspora vote is a contentious issue in Zimbabwe, and thousands were reported to have flown home to vote in July.
Maltese nationals have traditionally been assisted in flying home to vote with reduced ticket prices from the national airline.