argument top image

Should foreign residents be eligible to vote?
Back to question

Expatriates have same duties as nationals

Foreign nationals have same duty as nationals and therefore should be given same rights
(1 of 1) Next argument >

The Argument

Expatriates, even if temporary, contribute to society in the same ways as nationals. Specifically, this is true in terms of taxation, respect of the law, active participation in associations, and even social events. Consequently, their vote should be considered in elections.[1] Long-term expatriates may have plans to return to their home country, thus, they will maintain a vested interest in their country of citizenship. And, to the extent that they do not have exercisable voting rights in their country of residency, these individuals would be completely deprived of all opportunities to exercise their political rights if blocked from voting in their country of citizenship. Furthermore, the laws such individuals would be voting on do have an effect on their lives, especially in regards to international ramifications.[2] Residency should not be prioritized over citizenship. In other words, nations are most often thought of as a territorial concept; and thinking about citizenship this way is problematic. Citizenship should not be measured by how long one has resided within the territory of the state, but rather how committed they are to its ideals, and how readily they give back.[2] Expatriates are a great example of this. The idea that long-term expatriates are distant and disconnected citizens is simply false. Many expatriates are deeply tied to their country of citizenship— hence why they have not switched their citizenship. As previously mentioned, many expatriates plan to return to their countries of origin eventually. The fact that they continue to identify with their home country and retain their citizenship suggests a measure of emotional attachment.[1] However, if countries are to continue to deny their expatriates the right to vote, then they should also consider amendments to policies that require them to pay taxes to these same countries.[1] Furthermore, voting is a fundamental political right, and the right to vote is a core tenet to the ideals of many nations worldwide. Any limit on the right to vote, without a compelling justification, is inherently wrong. When looking to the case of voting rights for expatriates, no complaint has been identified with respect to voting by non-residents, and no evidence has been presented to show how voting by non-residents might compromise the fairness of the electoral system.[3] Thus, they should be recognized for what they are: citizens.

Counter arguments

Expatriates do not live within their country of citizenship. Therefore, they are left truly unaffected by local decisions. Why should their vote count in regard to matters that will simply not affect them? Expatriates should be barred from voting in local politics as it is inherently wrong to have the weight of their vote equal to that of a current resident who will feel the implications of the decision in their every-day life. In looking to laws with international implications, or even national elections, the votes of expatriates should still be withheld. Simply put, now living in another country, expatriates would no longer be voting in their country of citizenship's best interest. Instead, they would be voting for their own self-interest, a loyalty that would be more closely tied to their country of residency.[4] Moreover, as made clear during a Canadian debate on this same issue: "Preserving a relationship of currency between electors and their communities by limiting long-term non-resident voting ensures reciprocity between exercising the right to vote and bearing the burden of Canadian laws. The reciprocity principle justifies limiting non-resident voting precisely because long-term non-residents are not generally subject to Canadian laws."[1] In other words, Barring long-term expatriates is justified by the need to ensure that voters have sufficient ties to the community where they cast ballots, especially in a system—like that of Canada and the US— where votes for legislators are cast in districts.[1] To provide an example, if an individual has been residing away from their country of citizenship for fifteen years, their own ideals, interests, and goals will be shifted to match those of the country in which they live. That is not to say that this is a bad thing, or that they will have malicious feelings towards their home country, rather that they are no longer truly a part of their country of origin. Thus, what gives this individual the right to decide the fate of laws in a country that they have not lived in for nearly two decades?[4]


Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 15 Jul 2020 at 23:01 UTC