Confusing vote rules for expats ‘ridiculous;’ Elections Canada denies blame

More on expatriate voting and the rules that apply:

The finger-pointing highlights the confusing rules in play, which include:

  • Long-term expats, with some exceptions such as diplomats, cannot vote from abroad;
  • Long-term expats can vote in person at an advance poll or on election day in the riding they lived in before leaving Canada;
  • Long-term expats cannot vote under rules allowing resident Canadians, who will be away during the voting period, to vote at their local returning office;
  • Long-term expats can run in any riding in the country, if they meet other basic requirements;
  • Long-term expats who become candidates cannot vote for themselves, unless running in the riding in which they last lived before leaving Canada.

The current situation is patently absurd, O’Kurley said.

“All this ridiculous hair-splitting over time and place would be so unnecessary if the only litmus test for voting was citizenship,” O’Kurley said. “Policies that suppress Canadians’ ability to participate in their democracy are not worthy of Canadian democratic leadership in the world.”

O’Kurley noted that Elections Canada facilitates voting for long-term expats who work for the Canadian government, but not if they work for a private Canadian company.

Elections Canada conceded the legislation can be confusing but said it only enforces rules made by government _ and it’s up to government to fix any problems.

While I disagree with Kurley (perhaps a better test would be citizenship and filing a Canadian tax return would a future government wish to go down that road), making the rules clearer and more consistent should be doable.

Source: Confusing vote rules for expats ‘ridiculous;’ Elections Canada denies blame

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Confusing vote rules for expats ‘ridiculous;’ Elections Canada denies blame

  1. Marion Vermeersch says:

    These rules about ex-pat voting certainly do sound very confusing. I wonder whether it would lead to discrimination, i.e. based on the type of employment abroad, for expatriates wishing to vote. Personally, I have known quite a few Canadians who spent years working abroad, i.e. with construction and mechanical industries but had families here, so were definitely impacted by and interested in policies at home. As well, they paid income, property and other taxes. Therefore, I would think they should be allowed to vote.

    Perhaps a good plan would be citizenship plus income tax, as you have suggested, Andrew.

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