Voting from Abroad

The International IDEA Handbook
This publication is only available in electronic format
14 Noviembre 2007
978-91-85391-66-0 (Print)
Andrew Ellis, Carlos Navarro, Isabel Morales, Maria Gratschew, Nadja Braun
Federal Electoral Institute of Mexico

The constitutions of many countries guarantee the right to vote for all citizens.

However, in reality, voters who are outside their home country when elections take place are often disenfranchised because of a lack of procedures enabling them to exercise that right.

Voting from Abroad: The International IDEA Handbook examines the theoretical and practical issues surrounding external voting. It provides an overview of external voting provisions in 115 countries and territories around the world, including a map illustrating the regional spread.


A map of external voting practices in 214 countries and related territories

Nadja Braun and Maria Gratschew

1. External Voting: a comparative overview
Carlos Navarro, Isabel Morales and Maria Gratschew

2. The history and politics of external voting
Andrew Ellis

Case studies
The Cook Islands: seat for overseas voters abolished - Graham Hassall
Indonesia: a long-established system for external voting at diplomatic missions - Alan Wall
Zimbabwe: highly restrictive provisions - Ozias Tungwarara
Mozambique: a system that is too subjective? - Simon-Pierre Nanitelamio

3. The legal framework and an overview of electoral legislation
Dieter Nohlen and Florian Grotz

Case studies
Colombia: representation of emigrants in the Congress - Nydia Restrepo de Acosta
Portugal: extended voting rights and decreasing participation - Marina Costa Lobo

4. Entitlement to vote
Phil Green

Case studies
Senegal: a significant external electorate - Richard Vengroff
The Marshall Islands: a high proportion of external voters - Jon Fraenkel

5. The implementation of external voting
Judy Thompson

Case studies
Brazil: compulsory voting and renewed interest among external voters - Leticia Calderón-Chelius
Honduras: a decision based on political calculations - Jacobo Hernández Cruz

6. Host country
Brett Lacy

7. The political rights of refugees and displaced persons: enfranchisement and participation
Jeff Fischer

Case studies
Afghanistan’s 2004 presidential election: external voting for a large displaced population - Catinca Slavu
Bosnia and Herzegovina: post-war trends in external voting - Linda Edgeworth and Nada Hadzimehic
Iraq: a large diaspora and security concerns - Judy Thompson

8. The political rights of migrant workers and external voting
Carlos Navarro Fierro

Case studies
The Dominican Republic: political agreement in response to demands for the right to vote from abroad - Luis Arias Núñez
Mexico: safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process - Carlos Navarro Fierro and Manuel Carillo
The Philippines: the first experience of external voting - Philippines Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting
Cape Verde: a large diaspora and low turnout by external voters - Nuias Silva and Arlinda Chantre

9. Observation of external voting
Kåre Vollan

10. E-voting and external voting
Nadja Braun

Case studies
Estonia: more options for external voting - Epp Maaten
Switzerland: external voting in a federal state with direct democracy - Nadja Braun

Annex A. External voting: a world survey of 214 countries and territories

Annex B. Glossary of terms

Annex C. References and further readings

Annex D. The cost of external voting: some examples

Annex E. About the contributors

It is a resource reporting on a wealth of experience and provides an excellent first call for those interested in the topics covered. It is also—for those interested in the minutiae and esoterica regarding electoral systems—an intriguing source of not otherwise readily accessible information. … This valuable resource should be on every library and professional's bookshelf.
Professor Ron Johnston
University of Bristol
This is a unique and timely resource, covering the key political, legal, and operational components of external voting programs. It will quickly become a must-read for academics, policy-makers, and practitioners interested in an under-explored but rapidly growing phenomena that links the democracy and migration fields. The cases are first rate, and the content and organization cover all the critical issues and options in a thoughtful and balanced fashion. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
Jeremy Grace
Elections Consultant and Senior Adviser, International Organization for Migration

Related Content