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For Italians temporary abroad, voting procedure is very heavy

Erasmus students are the typical example of EU citizens temporary abroad [personal archive]

Italians temporary living abroad for work or study reasons have until 7 March to register for voting for the next European elections, the ministry of the Foreign Affairs said ahead of the 26 May poll. Applications received after 7 March will be not taken into account, the ministry specified.

The instructions, available on the website of the ministry as well as on the websites of all Italian embassies in Europe, invite to follow them carefully, because any mistake could invalidate the request and then, in order to vote, the only remaining possibility is to fly back home.

Having a look to the procedures to follow, what comes out is a real bureaucratic jungle. Documents, documents and again documents. People with the special status of ‘temporary outsiders’ (in the sense of out of the country) are not put in the most comfortable position to attend next May vote.

All other Italian citizens can vote according to the provisions of the national legislation, already offered on this blog with a dedicated article. Basically, while Italians living abroad on permanent basis or for a long period of time are generally registered in a special register which makes things simpler, people abroad for a short period of time have not the duty to register, but in case of European elections things are a bit more complicated for them.

What to do

Italians must present a specific request at the Consulate, to be filled in a form available both on-line and in paper form in the diplomatic offices. The request must be addressed to the mayor of the city where the applicant lives. The Consulate will forward the official request to the town hall.

Each request must specify the reason of the temporary stay abroad, and must be accompanied by all the necessary documents to prove it. In case of work, it is compulsory to present a letter from the employer. In case of study, students must present a letter from the university.

How to apply

According to the instructions given by the ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are three different options to present the request for voting.

1.            By e-mail. In this case it is necessary to attach scanned copies of the request, the letter from the employer/university, and a scanned identity card.

2.            By mail. In this case the letter must be sent to the office of the Consulate of the city where the Italians are temporary living. Once again, it is necessary to include in the envelope the request, the letter from the employer/university, and a photocopy of the identity card.

3.            In person. All the applicants must go to the competent office of the Consulate with the request, the letter from the employer/university, and the identity card. The competent service is open Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 12.30, and on Wednesday afternoons from 2.00 to 4.00 pm.

Who can apply

As already mentioned, all Italians who are temporary abroad can ask the possibility to participate to the European elections. This possibility is extended to all cohabiting family members. For them, too, the rules are those already explained and included in the communication of the ministry of Foreign Affairs.

No changes from 2014

Rules for Italians temporary abroad didn’t change in the last five years. For the 2014 European elections the same voting conditions applied for all the people neither in Italy nor registered in the special list of the Italian diplomatic offices for all the residents in the foreign country.

To be more precise, there is a tiny difference between what was requested in 2014 and what is requested now: last time it was possible to send everything via fax, too. Now fax is no longer an option. Somebody realised new technologies are now in place to make procedures quicker… But the next step should be simplification.

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