Friday, 8 April 2011

Expat voting: How does your system work?

With the local elections coming up in the UK on the 5th of May, there are many of us that will embrace the opportunity to cast a vote but what happens if you are an expat living abroad and you want to participate in your local or national elections?

The fact is that your right to vote as an expat in the nation you have moved to will vary considerably depending on where you are.

Currently British expats registered to vote within the last 15 years are able to vote as normal in local and national elections and will only forfeit this right after 15 years have passed.

However the story is very different in Australia. Electoral law in Oz prevents Australian expats from enrolling to vote if three or more years have passed since they last lived there. Once three years has passed they are deleted from the register and can only re-enrol once they move home.

For some expats it is even harder, or impossible, to vote whilst living abroad.

In a recent case, a group of Turkish expats have decided to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights over the decision by the Turkish Supreme Election Board (YSK) to prevent Turkish citizens, residing abroad, voting at embassies or consulates in their countries of residence. Instead the YSK announced that Turkish expatriates, some 2.5 million, would only be permitted to vote in the upcoming general elections at customs gates.

What have your experiences been of voting abroad? Share your comments us with us here.

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