If there’s one thing I’m prone to now and again, it’s a good, long political rant. I have strong views on a number of today’s issues. You name it — Brexit, Trump, capitalism, socialism — I’ve got an opinion on them. However, if you don’t practice what you preach and exercise your right to vote, then ultimately all those free-flowing Facebook rants and long-form thoughts are meaningless.
But what if you currently live in Japan and still want to participate in the political decisions in your home country? Different nations have different rules, of course, and the extent to which you can participate in your democratic process — as a citizen who lives abroad — varies from country to country.
There are too many different nationalities to list here, so I’ve decided today to concentrate on the five most common amongst our readership: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.S. and the U.K. — all of which, most likely, have elections coming up in the next year or so. If you are from outside these countries, then your best option is to contact your country’s embassy or consulate here in Japan.
To that end, here’s how foreigners in Japan of these nationalities can have their say in their country’s elections (listed in order of upcoming election date).
Quick question: What do North Korea and Australia have in common? Answer? Mandatory voting.
Yes, in Australia, everyone who is eligible to vote is legally required to do so. Of course, if you don’t you’ll be fined AU$20, but dare I say the penalty for such non-compliance in N.K. is probably far more severe!
However, this doesn’t necessarily apply to those overseas. If you are not in Australia at the time of the election, you can apply to be temporarily excused from voting or to have your name taken off the voters’ list indefinitely by completing an Overseas Notification form.
If you do wish to vote, however, and you are registered to do so, you can vote in one of two ways:
- by postal vote
- in person on election day at one of the designated overseas voting centers
For Aussies in Japan, this is the Australian Embassy in Tokyo. Location details and opening times can be found on the Australian Embassy Tokyo Japan website.
For postal votes, you can register to do this via the Australian Electoral Commission website.
You cannot, however, vote online. You will need to ensure that your vote is received by the returning officer in your district by the deadline — this is typically 6 p.m. on the day of the vote but this can vary from state to state. Be sure to factor this in when sending your vote and try to get it in as early as possible to avoid the risk of it not being counted.
Each state within Australia has its own way of doing things, so be sure to check with your local government office for the exact specifics for voting from overseas in your constituency, the voting times, registration and submission deadlines and so on.
Earlier this month, a federal election was called in Australia for Saturday May 18. If you are a registered overseas voter and haven’t received your ballot paper yet, it should arrive within the next week or so.
Click here to read more.
- External Link