Resort to postal voting, possibility of early physical voting, existence of proxy voting. Again, mobile polling stations. The European Parliament is working on the “reorganization” of popular participation in view of the 2024 European elections. The goal is to make available information that is currently little publicized to cast one’s vote. The constitutional affairs commission of the Eurochamber produces the first piece of this proposal which is expected to arrive in the Chamber immediately, for the plenary session in December (12-15). The outcome of the vote – 18 in favour, 4 against and no abstentions – suggests a majority that could be confirmed by the hemicycle.
The proposals to facilitate participation in the European elections aim to intercept those approximately 11 million EU citizens who are in another member state of the Union, and for whom being able to exercise the right to vote can be a problem. Each Member State has its own rules, for what is a real jungle. Even for the citizens of Ireland, Malta, the Czech Republic and Slovakia it is not possible to vote in the European elections if they are outside their own country. In nine other Member States (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania) postal voting is not foreseen, while e-voting is only possible for Estonian citizens.
Not everyone knows that residing in another country of the Union offers new opportunities, such as the possibility of being able to vote for candidates from the state in which one is located, by applying. Provided you know you have this right. An Italian registered in Belgium, for example, can choose, also for convenience, to vote for Belgian candidates (renouncing the vote for Italian ones). In that case he can make use of national rules, such as voting by proxy if unable to go to the polling station.
What the Constitutional Affairs commission is asking is to make it easier for non-national citizens to obtain all the information that allows them to participate in the vote. In summary, “let’s make our elections more accessible” to everyone, underlines Damian Boeselage (Greens), rapporteur of the text approved in the commission. To do this, it is necessary “to ensure that information is available in as many Union languages as possible and that civil society has an important role to play in raising awareness”.
The revolution, the real one, appears to be more complex in scope. If the request for more information can be made, and quickly (and the immediately scheduled vote in the House serves for this), the reform of the national electoral systems may not even take place. It is the competence of the States, which above all in the EU Council must decide unanimously. Parliament would like proxy, postal and even electronic voting to be a factor common to all Twenty-seven, and it is asking for it as far as possible. National governments are asked to “consider introducing” these possibilities internally. In the meantime, they work to inform what their citizens can do abroad and what happens when they register with the municipality of another country.
The obligations that the European Parliament would like to trigger are therefore others. Enable registration on the electoral roll as soon as the voter registers for residency, inform mobile citizens in an official EU language they understand about their rights and upcoming deadlines, ensure the same standards for submitting applications for national and mobile EU citizens. Furthermore, facilitate the exercise of the right to vote by vulnerable and marginalized groups, including people with disabilities, the elderly, the homeless and people in prison who enjoy the right to vote. All things that can be done immediately, and on which the MEPs must find unanimous agreement in the Council.