Members' Research Service By / September 7, 2023

Voting from abroad in European Parliament elections

The right to vote is recognised as a fundamental right by international, European and national legal instruments.

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Written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig and Micaela Del Monte.

National provisions regarding the right to vote of citizens living abroad are far from being uniform in Europe. However, developments in legislation seem to underline a favourable trend with regard to out-of-country voting in most European Union (EU) Member States.

Concerning voting from abroad, countries need to carefully assess and address several issues. These include: the identification of potential voters; how to inform them about their right to vote and stand as a candidate from abroad; the design and implementation of timely registration processes; the training of staff in diplomatic missions (for in-person voting in consular and diplomatic missions); the design and implementation of secure voting procedures, as well as the possible transportation of ballots from abroad.

Against this background, the legal and practical arrangements for voting in the European elections for citizens who live, or who are temporarily outside, their home state vary a great deal between EU countries: most countries allow voting at embassies or consulates abroad, several countries allow citizens living abroad to vote by post, a few countries allow voting by proxy, and one (Estonia) allows electronic voting. On the other hand, there are four Member States which do not allow their citizens to vote abroad in the European elections (Czechia, Ireland, Malta and Slovakia).

Ahead of the European elections in June 2024, this briefing provides an overview of the national provisions concerning voting from abroad in the 27 EU Member States.

This briefing belongs to a series of publications being issued ahead of the 2024 European elections.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Voting from abroad in European Parliament elections‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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