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General Resources

Expatriate voting is constantly undergoing new legislation, regulations, and restrictions worldwide, and it is crucial to gather all relevant databases and resources to ensure our best understanding on the topic. Therefore, the Center for Civic Justice gathered a list of relevant resources and case studies for those that want to learn more about the research already done and future steps. 

Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty 

Collyer, Michael & Vathi, Zana. “Patterns of Extra-Territorial Voting.” Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty . University of Sussex (October 2007). https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08c09e5274a31e0000f5e/WP-T22.pdf  

Should citizens who leave the territory of their country be able to vote? In doing so, they are likely to lose certain benefits of their citizenship, such as the right to vote. However, opponents of expatriate voting argue that if given the right to do so, those who live overseas are selecting government officials for positions that would not be affecting them. This paper by the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty explains why or why not countries should invest in expatriate voting and also provides an appendix of countries that allow expatriate voting (and furthermore, those those that allow expatriates to have their own Congressional representation), those that do not, and those with no elections at all. 

ACE Project

“Country.” ACE Project: The Electoral Knowledge Network. https://aceproject.org/regions-en?set_language=en  

The ACE Project, launched in 1998 at the United Nations by the the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), is one of the world's largest electoral databases. It includes over 200 countries as well as territories, directed through their use of an interactive map highlighting one's place of interest. By clicking on a highlighted country, users would immediately see the voting age, election methods, and limits to expatriate voting. Case studies are also provided for specific countries, in addition to election calendars and foreign observations of a given country’s elections.

National Democratic Institute

“Elections Calendar.” National Democratic Institute . www.ndi.org/elections-calendar  

The Global Elections Calendar, created by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), is a constantly updated calendar for future and past elections worldwide. NDI is established in over a hundred countries and is not directly affiliated or involved in general elections. As stated by their mission statement to “support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government,” the calendar also provides general electoral information, such as the type of elections available to citizens, deadlines for voters, and any potential restrictions to voting. 

Open Election Data Initiative

“Election Data Guide.” Open Election Data Initiative . https://openelectiondata.net/en/guide/  

The Open Election Data Initiative is a project dedicated to transparency, accountability, and responsibility in international elections. To demonstrate how electoral data should be publicly available, the guide is divided into four sections the integrity of elections: Electoral Integrity, Open Election Data Principles, Key Categories in Elections, and Open Election Data in Practice.

Election Standards at the Carter Center

“Election Parts.” Election Standards at the Carter Center . https://eos.cartercenter.org/   

The Election Standards at the Carter Center database began in 2010 that aimed to measure human rights and international elections in tandem. This resource enables “ observers, election assistance providers, researchers, and citizens to link election quality to countries’ specific human rights and democratic obligations.” As part of the database’s initiative, electoral information for overseas and domestic voters is also provided separated by “election parts,” “obligations,” and “ratifications.”

Electoral Materials (ACE Project)

“Electoral Materials.” ACE Project: The Electoral Knowledge Network. https://aceproject.org/ero-en/search_materials_results/Manuals%20and%20Guidelines

The ACE Project, launched in 1998 at the United Nations by the the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), compiles electoral materials from different countries. These materials can range from ballots, voting handbook, polling manuals, voting legislation, and voter rights. 

Voting from Abroad: IDEA

Ellis, A., Navarro, C., Morales, I., Gratschew, M., & Braun, N. “Voting from Abroad: The International IDEA Handbook.” Instituto Federal Electoral. 2007. https://www.idea.int/sites/default/files/publications/voting-from-abroad-the-international-idea-handbook.pdf  

This handbook by the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) provides a comprehensive guide to expatriate voting rights for all countries, including: 

  • Definitions
  • Laws and restrictions
  • Procedures
  • Voter eligibility
  • Types of elections allowing external voting
  • Political representations for external voters
  • Case studies
  • Future designs, such as e-voting
  • Challenges of electoral organization and host countries
  • Arguments for overseas voting, including advantages and disadvantages 
  • Costs and budgets, logistics
  • Political rights and the enfranchisement of refugees

Voting from Abroad: IDEA (Map)

“Voting From Abroad: Handbook on External Voting.” International IDEA. 2007.  https://www.idea.int/sites/default/files/publications/chapters/voting-from-abroad/voting-from-abroad-the-international-idea-handbook-map.pdf  

The map above presented by the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) lays out a series of election types and methods of voting by country. The map demonstrates limits to expatriate voting, such as only being able to participate in presidential or legislative elections and only being able to vote in person instead of by mail.

Voting from Abroad Database: IDEA

“World.” International IDEA : Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. https://www.idea.int/data-tools/world-view/52  

The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) is a database comprised of electoral data from 216 countries and territories. In alphabetical order, countries and territories are listed with information on whether they allow external voting, the types of elections those abroad can participate in, the types of voting methods those abroad can utilize, the year that external voting was first allowed, and additional comments and documents.

 

Case Studies

Expatriate voting is a recent topic of research, and therefore, not many general studies on the subject have yet to be completed. In many cases, expatriates either temporarily or permanently move to different countries for better social, economic, educational, and personal circumstances, but would still like to contribute to the political progress in their home countries. To better understand the importance of voting overseas, the following case studies explain its relevance to everyday people in executing their civil right to vote and acting on their national allegiance from wherever they are. 

The Challenges to Democracy and Citizenship Surrounding the Vote to Italians Overseas

Battiston, S., & Mascitelli, B. “The challenges to democracy and citizenship surrounding the vote to Italians overseas.” Modern Italy. January 7, 2016, pp. 261-280. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/modern-italy/article/challenges-to-democracy-and-citizenship-surrounding-the-vote-to-italians-overseas/E2978CD030AAE51E9B9880A032C47390

This article is about Italian right party efforts in taking away expatriate voting rights since most of those abroad align with the left and vote for progressive social reform. Therefore, the right party has been questioning the need for expatriate representation due to their “multinational allegiances and diasporic identity,” which threatens freedom of migration. Nevertheless, international voters make up a huge constituent basis for home elections, and this was demonstrated by their effect on the 2006 Italian elections which caused a leftist majority in the Senate. The author states this as voter suppression of rightful and legal citizens who may be of lower socioeconomic status since they had to leave the country in search of better opportunities.

Authoritarian States and Voting From Abroad: North African Experiences

Brand, Laurie A. “Authoritarian States and Voting From Abroad: North African Experiences.” Comparative Politics. Vol. 43, No. 1 (October 2010), pp 81-99. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25741388?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents  

The article addresses the refugee crisis in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia and the need for overseas voter rights so migrants who were forced to leave can vote for social reforms so they can safely return. The author refers to the “evolution of citizenship” in authoritarian countries where such governments have granted expatriate voting rights to refugees.

Brazil: Compulsory Voting and Renewed Interest Among External Voters

“Brazil: Compulsory Voting and Renewed Interest Among External Voters.” Out of Country Voting: ACE, The Electoral Knowledge Network. http://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/va/annex/country-case-studies/brazil-compulsory-voting-and-renewed-interest

The ACE Project focuses on voting laws and restrictions for every country, with an emphasis on expatriate voting rights. This section exemplifies Brazil’s progress in the matter since the government has guaranteed political rights to all citizens no matter their geographical location. The writers also demonstrate the effectiveness of compulsory voting for those at home, which creates a high widespread morale for civil duties and engagement, so even when a Brazilian citizen goes abroad, they have a higher chance of remaining politically active. Furthermore, they argue that expatriate voting is understudied due to politics, causing refugees and migrants to lose their national identity. 

Voting from Abroad in 18 Latin American Countries

Fierro, Carlos Navarro. “Voting from Abroad in 18 Latin American Countries.” Electoral Studies in Compared International Perspective , National Electoral Institute International Affairs Unit (May 2016). http://aceproject.org/about-en/voting-from-abroad-in-18-latin-american-countries  

This journal studies how many Latin American countries have enacted legislation for expatriate voting rights due to the large number of migrant workers in Europe and the US. Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) has granted those abroad the same voting rights as those at home and states that foreign residency is not a reasonable restriction to voting. No legislation for expatriate voting threatens democratic voter rights. 

Explaining (Non) Participation in Overseas Voting: The Case of Overseas Filipino Voters in Japan in the 2016 Elections

Jaca, Georgeline B. & Torneo, Ador R. “Explaining (non) participation in overseas voting: the case of overseas Filipino voters in Japan in the 2016 elections.” Diaspora Studies. December 25, 2019. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09739572.2019.1705695?journalCode=rdst20

This article is about Filipino voters in Japan and demonstrates the voting costs (which include a lack of resources for travel and connections to embassies and information) usually outweigh the benefits of voting for many expatriates. Filipinos abroad have not lost their allegiance to the Philippines but do not see voting as a responsibility anymore.