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GreekReporter.comDiasporaBill on Postal Voting for Greeks Abroad Expanded to Include National Elections

Bill on Postal Voting for Greeks Abroad Expanded to Include National Elections

Postal Voting Greece
Postal voting will only be available to those living outside Greece. Credit: Jebulon, CC1/Wikipedia

On Monday, the Greek government introduced an amendment to a bill that would include postal voting in the national elections and European elections scheduled for later this year.

The amendment establishes postal voting as the exclusive method of voting for national elections by Greeks living in other countries.

“The Parliament has the historical and moral responsibility to approve, with the utmost consensus, a legislative proposal that removes any real or practical impediment to the exercise of the voting rights of Greek citizens, regardless of their place of residence or location,” Interior Minister Niki Kerameus said in Parliament.

“Since a consensus is arising for the postal vote of Greek residents abroad in the European elections, why not also for the national elections?” she added. “This is a self-evident extension of a facilitation that we have been discussing for five decades.”

The amendment sets the day after the official announcement of national elections as the deadline for registration to vote by mail. It expands the right to postal voting beyond European Parliamentary elections and referendums.

According to the text submitted, the method will only be available to those living outside Greece, who must be registered in the special mail-in lists and provide a foreign address.

Based on the Greek constitution, the amendment must be supported by at least two hundred deputies (a two-thirds majority), and its provisions will go into effect in the following national elections.

The bill on postal voting is scheduled for a parliamentary vote later this week.

Postal voting follows diaspora voting from country of residence

Announcing postal voting last November, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, “It is a brave reform, it widens the electorate that participates in elections and is the most powerful answer to abstention and inaction.”

He pointed out that many groups of citizens, including the elderly, students, and seasonal workers far from their place of residence, can participate in the election procedure through the postal vote. He also added that the activation of this possibility in the elections for the European Parliament this spring would be followed in the national elections.

The PM said that postal voting is a “brave institutional reform’ that follows his government’s initiative in 2021 to allow the diaspora to vote without having to fly back home.”

Until then, Greece was the only country in Europe—and perhaps the entire Western world— where full citizens living abroad were denied the right to vote in Greek elections from the country of their residence either by casting a ballot at the Greek embassy or through postal voting.

Although the participation of Greeks living abroad in the last elections of 2023 was disappointing due to bureaucratic obstacles, it was a step forward.

Two main requirements were accepted and imposed by the opposition in 2021. Those eligible to vote must have had a two-year stay in Greece in the last thirty-five years, which is difficult to prove, and those over thirty must be tax-registered in Greece.

The bureaucratic conditions imposed and the cumbersome process of finding and certifying the required documents have been discouraging for most of the diaspora.

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