Registered voters abroad near 45K, almost triple from 2015

When I was arguing (unsuccessfully) against expansion of expatriate voting rights, I used a number of measures to estimate the degree of connection to Canada, the and the experience of other jurisdictions to estimate the likely percentage of expatriates that would vote (see What should expatriates’ voting rights be? – Policy Options).

I was clearly wrong in my estimate of between 200 to 300,000 based upon Australian and US experience:

Elections Canada figures show 44,843 Canadians living abroad are on its International Register of Electors as of Oct. 6. In the 2015 election, 15,603 Canadians living outside of the country registered to vote.

While not all Canadians residing abroad will cast ballots, chief electoral officer Stéphane Perrault estimated last month that 30,000 citizens outside of Canada would vote in the coming election, up from almost 11,000 in the 2015 election.

When he offered that estimate on Sept. 17, he said about 20,000 Canadians living abroad were signed up to vote.

“At this point, it seems the numbers are what we thought they would be, but it may of course change,” he said.

This election will be the first where all Canadians residing abroad will be eligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been away.

In January, the Supreme Court ruled on a case brought by two Canadians residing in the United States who were barred from voting in the 2011 election because of legislation passed in 1993.

That legislation had been only loosely enforced up to that point, and barred Canadians who had lived outside the country for more than five years from voting in Canadian elections.

The country’s top court ruled the restriction unconstitutional and the Canada Elections Act was subsequently amended to adjust for the change in Bill C-76.

The international register of electors show 19,094 Canadians living in the U.S. are signed up to vote, making up almost 43 per cent of all registered abroad.

The second jurisdiction with the highest number of registered voters was the United Kingdom, with 5,176 Canadians. Hong Kong is third with 2,389 Canadians signed up to vote.

Australia, Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan and mainland China capped off the top 10 list.

Elections Canada spokesperson Matthew McKenna said it’s important to note that the international register is a permanent database.

“Once a name is added, it remains there year over year, unless the elector requests that it be removed, or passes away,” he said.

Canadians living abroad can vote by mail-in ballot. The deadline to apply to vote by mail is Tuesday, Oct. 15, 6 p.m. E.T.

Perrault cautioned that voters living abroad must also account for the time it takes for an application to be mailed, processed, and for the ballot to be sent back to Canada. On Sept. 17, he said those Canadians should register within the next week to 10 days.

Elections Canada is not accepting ballots it receives later than 6 p.m. on Oct. 21.

Votes from abroad will be counted in ridings of their last permanent address.

Source: Registered voters abroad near 45K, almost triple from 2015

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.

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