Accommodation to vote should be made for voters with special needs, including eligible voters currently out of the country.
- [States should foster citizen participation in the electoral process by] facilitating the participation in the electoral process of citizens living abroad, subject to restrictions in accordance with the law, such as duration of residence abroad, whilst ensuring that, if polling stations are set up abroad, their establishment is based on transparent criteria.
- Election laws may contain special provisions to facilitate voting by persons who are physically disabled, those in hospital or in prisons, those who are out of the country or who cannot come to the polling station for other valid reasons.
- [T]he right to vote and to be elected may be accorded to citizens residing abroad.
- A number of countries permit their citizens to cast ballots in embassies or specially designated voting centres outside of the country.
- Where applicable, special arrangements should be made to allow special categories of voters, such as voters living abroad and prisoners, to vote.
- In practice…there is a growing tendency to broaden the franchise, for example, by including overseas residents.
- In similar vein, if the procedure for registering as an external elector has to be carried out at an embassy or consulate, the extent and geographical distribution of the country’s network of diplomatic missions overseas and the distance between the diplomatic missions and the regions or zones where the potential electorate resides and/or works could have a negative influence on the coverage of the mechanism for external voting.
- There is thus no ‘best procedure’ for external voting. Much will depend on the context, such as the infrastructure of those foreign countries where external voting is to be held. The decision on suitability will depend on the costs and practical aspects of the different procedures for external voting (...).
- Entitlement to cast an external vote is usually linked to the general entitlement to vote that applies to all eligible electors in a country. However, there are sometimes extra requirements imposed on external electors, such as a minimum period of previous residence or an intention to return to the country. In some cases only limited groups of external electors may be eligible to vote, such as diplomats, other public officials and members of the armed forces, and their families.
- The security and control of registration and voting materials require special attention for external voting. Security is as essential externally as it is internally but there is the added challenge of securing sensitive materials during transport to and from several countries.
- In most cases the duties and responsibilities of countries hosting foreign electoral activity on their soil are minimal, being confined to the role of facilitator rather than that of organizer or implementer. While host countries can assist in the external voting process, their role should not threaten the secrecy of the ballot or the neutrality or transparency of the programme. It is critical that external voting programmes be conducted without political or government influence or interference.