Emigrants should have a vote in upcoming general election
Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 05:09 AM
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With the General Election looming, millions of people around the globe will once again be robbed of their right to have a say in Ireland’s political destiny.
Under Irish law if you are living abroad you cannot be entered into the register of electors.
There are some exceptions for Irish diplomats, members of the defense and police forces who can apply for a postal vote if they are abroad in Election Day.
So for countless Irish abroad they are caught in diplomatic limbo. Not able to cast a vote in their homeland, and an immigrant in their new home, the act of voting becomes a thing of the past with your power to exercise your constitutional right stripped.
More than 110 countries allow passport holders who live abroad the right to vote, however Ireland is not one of them.
If you are not present in Ireland on polling day, then your vote is lost.
In Britain, citizens who registered in the last 15 years can vote abroad in elections for Parliament and European Parliament, but not local elections.
France has tested Internet voting in order to stimulate voter participation. A 2003 law means French voters living overseas are afforded the right to vote electronically, or by mail or at a local embassy or consulate. In Holland citizens abroad can vote by mail or online.
With emigration levels mirroring those of the eighties, a significant proportion of the Irish Diaspora now spread throughout the globe, are unable to cast a vote on Election Day.
According to the Economic and Social Research Institute around 1,000 people are leaving Ireland each week. Countless voices and thousands of votes lost.
Families, graduates and the unemployed, those most affected by Ireland’s downturn are been stripped of their right to cast their verdict as they leave Irish shores.
Two Irish friends and I recently discussed the potential outcome of the imminent election, and its grave importance, which will go down in the history books.
Two of us New York based and the other in DC, we each left Ireland just over a year ago. All in agreement that we would like to return some time in future, we collectively lamented the loss of our democratic right to vote.
In a country where thousands are leaving, many of which share a desire to return home some day, it seems draconian that our voice is lost.
During Ireland’s heyday the Government allocated millions for an electronic voting system that’s now gathering dust in a storage unit somewhere in Dublin.
Just like the abandoned voting system, Irish emigrant’s voices will become obsolete on polling day, as our say in the countries future is goes unaccounted.