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National elections and referendums

(Reference Office: D.G.IT. – Desk II)

 

Pursuant to Law 459/2001 and to the Regulation Implementing the Presidential Decree 104/2003, Italian citizens living abroad and registered with AIRE vote in the Overseas Constituency for the election of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate and for the referendums referred to in Articles 75 and 138 of the Constitution.

The following four geographical areas are identified within the Overseas Constituency:

– Europe, including the Asian territories of the Russian Federation and Turkey;

– South America;

– North and Central America;

– Africa, Asia, Oceania and Antarctica.

Following the confirmative people’s referendum of September 20, 2020 relating to the adoption of the constitutional law on “amendments to Articles 56, 57 and 59 of the Constitution on the matter of reducing the number of MPs”, adopted by Parliament and published in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic No. 240 of October 12, 2019, the total number of MPs elected in the Overseas Constituency is currently 12 (8 Deputies and 4 Senators).

Voting abroad is not envisaged for the election of regional, provincial and municipal councils, nor for local referendums.

 

CATEGORIES OF VOTERS

  1. TheItalian citizens living abroad, registered with AIRE and on the electoral rolls, who are at least 18 years old, vote abroad.
  2. The Italian citizens who, for reasons of work, study or medical treatment, are TEMPORARILY – for a period of at least three months on which the polling day falls – in a foreign country in which they are not registered as residents within the meaning of Law No. 470 of October 27, 1988, may vote by mail in the Overseas Constituency, subject to a prior valid option for a single poll. The family members living together with the aforementioned nationals may vote in the same manner. The option, signed by the voter and accompanied by copy of a valid identity document, shall be reached by the Municipality of electoral registration (and therefore NOT the Consular Offices) by the thirty-second day prior to the polling day in Italy. The request is revocable within the same term and is valid for a single poll.

 

STATES IN WHICH VOTING BY MAIL IS NOT PERMITTED

Voting is only by mail in the States where there are the conditions for its organisation. Article 20, paragraph 1-bis, of Law 459/2001 lays down that voting by mail is not permitted in States with which Italy has no diplomatic relations, nor in States where the political or social situation does not ensure, even temporarily, that voting by mail can be exercised under conditions of equality, freedom and secrecy, i.e. that no prejudice is caused to the employment and individual rights of voters and other Italian citizens as a result of their participation in all the activities envisaged by this Law.

Therefore, in these countries, the compatriots resident and registered with AIRE, as well as those temporarily abroad as described above, may exercise their right to vote only at the Municipality of electoral registration in Italy. In order to ensure the effectiveness of this right, the Law envisages a specific economic benefit (reimbursement of 75% of the cost of the travel ticket by providing the relevant documentation to the competent Consulate) for a citizen resident and registered with AIRE (but not a compatriot temporarily abroad*) in a State where voting by mail is not possible or severely prejudicial, unlike in the case of a voluntary choice to vote in Italy.

*[Pursuant to paragraphs 5 and 6 of the aforementioned Article 4-bis, exceptions are made for permanent State employees serving abroad, notified pursuant to the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic or Consular Relations, and members of the Armed Forces and Police Forces temporarily abroad on international missions, considering the specific and special nature of their respective situations (which may not enable them to return to Italy to exercise their right to vote), as well as the people living with them, who may participate in the election even if they are serving in countries where it is not possible to organise voting by mail.]

 

WAYS TO VOTE BY MAIL

Voters living abroad receive from the relevant Consular Office, at their address abroad, the ballot envelope containing the ballot papers and instructions on how to vote.

Voters who have not received the ballot envelope by the 14th day before the polling day in Italy may go in person to the relevant Consular Office to check their electoral status and request a duplicate of the ballot envelope (Article 12, paragraph 5, of Law 459/2001).

The Consular Office is also authorised to admit to voting by mail abroad all citizens whose names have – for any reason – not been included in the electoral rolls drawn up by the Interior Ministry, if they prove that they are registered with AIRE or if registration or updating has been requested by December 31 of the previous year. The request for being admitted to vote shall be received by the Consulate no later than the 11th day before the polling day in Italy and is made conditional upon the Italian Municipality issuing a declaration of non-existence of reasons preventing the voter from voting.

Once the vote has been cast, the voter returns the ballot paper(s) to the Consular Office using the pre-stamped envelope contained in the ballot parcel.

Once the operations have been completed, the ballot papers voted by the Italians living abroad and received by the Consular Offices by 4 p.m. on the Thursday prior to the polling day in Italy are transmitted to Italy, where the vote count is made by the Central Office for the Overseas Constituency set up at the Court of Appeal in Rome.

 

OPTION FOR VOTING IN ITALY

A voter residing abroad and registered with AIRE, who intends to exercise the right to vote in Italy, may submit a specific option to this end by sending written notice to the relevant Consular Office by December 31 of the year preceding the one of the natural end of the legislative term (Article 4, paragraph 1, of Law 459/2001). In the case of early elections or referendums, the voter may exercise the option to vote in Italy by the 10th day after the calling of elections (Article 4, paragraph 2, of Law 459/2001). It will be the responsibility of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to communicate to the Interior Ministry the data of the compatriots who have expressed a valid option by the deadline set by law, so that the Municipalities of electoral registration can enter the citizens into the sectional electoral rolls.

Please note: these voters are NOT entitled to reimbursement of travel expenses, except for the travel concessions offered for journeys within the Italian territory

 

LEGISLATION

  • Law No. 459 of December 27, 2001 – Rules for the exercise of the right to vote by Italian citizens living abroad
  • Presidential Decree No. 104 of April 2, 2003 – Regulation for implementing Law No. 459 of December 27, 2001, regulating the exercise of the right to vote by Italian citizens living abroad.
  • Decree-Law No. 24 of February 15, 2008 (converted into Law No. 30 of February 27, 2008) – Urgent provisions for the holding of national and local elections in 2008.
  • Law No. 52 of May 6, 2015 (Official Journal 105 of May 8, 2015) containing “Provisions on the election of the Chamber of Deputies”.
  • – Law No. 165 of November 3, 2017 (Official Journal – General Series – No. 264 of November 11, 2017), on “Changes to the system of election of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Delegation to the Government for determining single-member and multi-member electoral constituencies”