Inclusion of Postal Voting for 800,000 Greeks Abroad in Elections

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In the ballot box, 800,000 Greeks living abroad will have the right to vote through postal voting - How will the process work? What will the Special Committee for Collecting Postal Votes do?

The high abstention rate observed in the recent elections led Mr. Mitsotakis to the decision to grant the right to postal voting to all Greeks, both abroad and domestically.

In December 2019, from the podium of the Greek Parliament, Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his satisfaction with the majority support that the bill for the vote of Greeks living abroad received, but also his disappointment that the majority did not include the provision for postal voting.

"Our proposal, as it was presented for public dialogue, did not impose restrictions on the scope of the electoral body and, of course, it recognized postal voting - I remind you, constitutionally guaranteed since 2001," he said. Subsequent public opinion polls showed that citizens were in favor of such a reform. In a poll conducted by Opinion Poll two years ago on the issue of the vote of expatriates registered in the electoral rolls, 67% were in favor, with the percentage among New Democracy voters reaching 84.8%.

In the last election, Greeks in the diaspora were able to vote from their place of residence for the first time. However, a total of 22,855 voters were registered in the foreign electoral rolls, of whom only 18,203 voted. The government's goal of mass participation was not achieved, and immediately after its re-election, it brought the bill that removes obstacles to the vote of expatriate Greeks and received the required majority of 200 members of parliament as required by the Constitution for the amendment of the electoral legislation.

Easier with postal voting
Postal voting remained in the Prime Minister's plans, but legal issues had to be clarified first and technical issues had to be resolved. This task was undertaken by Minister of Interior, Niki Kerameos, and Deputy Minister, Theodoros Livanios, for implementation in the European elections and only for them, as well as in national referendums. According to information, a preliminary estimate, which is obviously not entirely accurate, speaks of up to 800,000 Greeks living abroad who have the right to vote and can now exercise it more easily and simply, starting from the upcoming European elections.

The high abstention rate observed in the recent elections led Mr. Mitsotakis to the decision to grant the right to postal voting to all Greeks, both abroad and domestically - at least for the upcoming European elections. "I believe that it is a historic turning point, which essentially enriches and changes the electoral process, as well as a very courageous institutional reform that essentially expands the body of citizens participating in the elections. I think it is the strongest response we can give to the abstention and apathy of citizens," he stressed at the meeting of the Council of Ministers last Thursday.

What will the Special Committee do?
Thus, in the upcoming European elections on June 9, 2024, every voter (within Greece) will have the option to choose whether to exercise their voting right through postal voting instead of going to their polling station. Greeks outside the country will exclusively exercise their voting rights through postal voting. How will this work in practice? The voter will receive the electoral materials, cast their vote, and send their envelope to the Special Committee for Collecting Postal Votes at the competent District Courts.

The envelope will contain the return envelope for postal voting, the voting envelope, the ballot paper, an instruction leaflet, a candidate list, as well as the declaration document. Postal votes will be counted simultaneously with the votes in the rest of the country.

In detail, the procedure, as presented by the Ministry of Interior, is as follows:

  • An electronic portal will be created for registration in the electoral lists for postal voting.
  • The voter, using their codes, will enter their application and provide the address to which they want their electoral materials to be sent. The mobile phone number and email provided will be verified with a one-time password (OTP).
  • The application becomes final as soon as it is submitted. The deadline for submitting applications is 40 days before the elections. Until that date, the voter can modify the delivery address or any other details, as well as cancel their application.
  • The envelope will be sent no later than 20 days before the elections by the Ministry of Interior. The delivery will be free of charge to the recipient and must be received either by the voter or by a third party who has been expressly authorized to receive it.

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