Ci­ti­zens abroad express de­sire to vote in elec­tions

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - —KUNA

In spite of the long and lead­ing march of democ­racy of Kuwait, the par­lia­men­tary elec­tion law does not give ci­ti­zens abroad the op­por­tu­nity to vote as is the case in most demo­cratic coun­tries. It has been the prac­tice in demo­cratic coun­tries where ci­ti­zens liv­ing abroad are al­lowed to vote in the elec­tions, even if they are res­i­dent out­side the coun­try, mak­ing it eas­ier for the vot­ers to ex­er­cise their right and in­crease the rate of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the elec­toral process.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion of Kuwaitis liv­ing or study­ing abroad is of a great sig­nif­i­cance es­pe­cially with the rise in their num­bers in re­cent years, which is dif­fi­cult for many of them to re­turn to the coun­try on time for the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion on the pos­si­bil­ity of open­ing the door for Kuwaitis abroad to vote like in many coun­tries, as­sis­tant Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Depart­ment of Elec­tions in the In­te­rior Min­istry Colonel Salah Al-Shatti said the elec­tions law No. 35/1962 did not en­tail any clause al­low­ing ci­ti­zens re­sid­ing abroad to vote from their places of res­i­dence.

Shatti added that en­abling ci­ti­zens to vote while they are out­side the coun­try re­quires a leg­isla­tive amend­ment to the elec­tion law, in­di­cat­ing that the onus is on mem­bers of the Na­tional Coun­cil to make the nec­es­sary amend­ments, point­ing out that it is not the pre­rog­a­tive of the Min­istry of In­te­rior to dis­cuss or make any amend­ment on this mat­ter.

Ar­ti­cle IV of the elec­tion law states that a voter shall ex­er­cise his or her elec­toral rights him­self in the con­stituency in his coun­try and the home of the elec­tion is the place where a per­son lives in per­ma­nently. In this con­text, a num­ber of schol­ar­ship stu­dents abroad said that ex­er­cis­ing their elec­toral right while be­ing abroad is a pop­u­lar de­mand, ex­press­ing hope that an ap­proval in this re­spect sees the light in the near fu­ture.

Mean­while, Ahmed Buabas, a stu­dent in the United King­dom, ex­pressed his sup­port for en­abling the schol­ar­ship stu­dents to ex­er­cise their rights, but called for tak­ing into ac­count full prepa­ra­tion for this sen­si­tive process through the pro­vi­sion of spe­cial­ized peo­ple who over­see the vot­ing process and main­tain strict con­fi­den­tial­ity, es­pe­cially with the time dif­fer­ence be­tween some re­mote coun­tries and Kuwait.

Sheikha Al-Qal­laf, an­other schol­ar­ship stu­dents said that wished she could be able to vote while study­ing abroad as the num­ber of Kuwaiti stu­dents is in­creas­ing, say­ing that Kuwaiti stu­dents want to express their opin­ions as well.

Ali Dashti, also a stu­dent in the UK, said he does sup­port the idea of open­ing the door for Kuwaiti na­tion­als abroad as this mat­ter will have a neg­a­tive im­pact on stu­dents’ ca­reers dur­ing the elec­toral process. Dashti said that the stu­dents’ union elec­tions at­test some­times ver­bal al­ter­ca­tions be­tween some stu­dents ask­ing, “What would be the case if the elec­tions were at the level of the Na­tional As­sem­bly.”

Not al­lowed Pop­u­lar de­mand

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