Before the Berlin wall came down, Germany was divided into East Germany and West Germany. East Germany was called the DDR (“Deutsche Demokratische Republik,”). It was clearly not a democracy. In the Soviet Union people were entitled to vote. It’s just that no representatives of the voters appeared on the ballot. Clearly the fact that a country calls itself a democracy does NOT make it a democracy. There are many different kinds of democracies. They can have different rules, different kinds of representatives and different ways to determine the winner of elections. Yet all true democracies share one characteristic:
They allow citizens and stakeholders to have meaningful participation in the political process. Meaningful participation includes more than the right to cast a ballot. It necessarily includes having someone on the ballot who represents ones interests.
There is a minimum of five million U.S. citizens abroad. As a group Americans abroad are larger than many states. Yet Americans Abroad have no elected representatives who represent their interests. The following comment underscores the fact that many U.S. citizens abroad do NOT have the right to vote. That said, those who do have voting rights are not able to vote for candidates who represent their interests.
The following comment at the Isaac Brock Society is deserving of its own post.
Just an important heads up for those commenting on these types of articles. When the issue of voting rights from abroad come up, it is NOT correct that ALL US citizens have the right to register or to vote from abroad. Each state makes its own rules about who can register and vote absentee in federal elections. Almost half of US states (just under half?) DO NOT allow those born abroad with US citizenship with NO US residency period to register or vote from abroad. See https://www.votefromabroad.org/news/facts-voting-abroad a site sponsored by Democrats Abroad . Only some states allow those who were born in the US to register in the last state that their US parent lived in – IF that parent WAS eligible to vote there http://www.fvap.gov/reference/nvr-res.html.
The rules vary wildly by state. Effectively, a large portion of those deemed US citizens abroad can NEVER register or vote from abroad – unless they were to move to the US and establish some period of actual residency. See FAWCO ‘Voting rights for US citizen children born abroad ‘ “…Unfortunately if neither of your parents is from one of these states, you may be an American citizen who has no voting rights. ..” http://www.fawco.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1921:voting-rights-for-us-citizen-children-born-abroad&catid=110:us-voting-from-overseas&Itemid=343 and also http://www.aaro.org/aaro-around-the-world/254 ‘Which American Kids Don’t Have the Right to Vote? Ours!’ “…When these foreign-born American citizens overseas turn 18, they will need to file US taxes and sons will be expected to register with the Selective Service. But a lot of them won’t be able to vote….”……….”if the person in question has never been domiciled in a state? UOCAVA doesn’t cover them. The right to vote is not guaranteed by the Constitution; it is a “gift” of the states. …”
Only in recent years has the US even made it a project of trying to make voting from abroad for those who qualify somewhat easier. They are far more interested in facilitating our taxation than our voting rights. They continue to let a conflicting patchwork of US state laws interfere with the ‘right’ to vote, whereas they have no doubts whatever that we have the ‘right’ to be taxed by the US. I remember very clearly when I initially went to the Toronto US consulate to see if I could register and vote from abroad, and the clerks behind their sealed glass counter pointed me to a row of telephone directory sized books chained to the far back wall. I received zero assistance other than that, though I asked how I would even know which state to even apply to register with if I had no US residency as an adult. I was told it was up to me to figure it out.
US citizens with and without the right and ability to register and vote from abroad is of course but a smaller subset of the far larger group of those deemed/doomed to be ‘US TAXABLE persons’ – including those who can never qualify to vote because they are NOT citizens – for ex. greencard holders and ex-greencard holders, plus those who were only visitors who stay too long and become US taxable but who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents.
So, the cry of “taxation without representation” is effectively the case for most of us. And, even those abroad who can register and vote have no EFFECTIVE representation – as we have seen when our congresscritters and senators deny us easy access to their offices by screening out e-mails from outside their districts, much less outside the US. We are also blessed with having US taxation without effective government services when the IRS cancels all in-person information and assistance in our consulates and embassies – due to budget cuts, at the same time as aggressively ratcheting up the enforcement only bias of the FBAR and FATCA fundraiser and jihad against all assets held outside the US – where we happen to live, and often were born. Despite being notified officially and repeatedly of this problem by the Taxpayer Advocate, Congress, Treasury and the IRS persist with persecuting us extraterritorially, but refuse to provide any significant and in-person extraterritorial assistance in the countries with millions of deemed ‘US taxable persons’ and US citizens abroad – Canada and Mexico. You CAN rat out someone to the IRS via the IRS attache in Ottawa, but you can’t get any information or help with your attempts to be compliant.http://canada.usembassy.gov/consular_services/taxpayer-assistance.html . Note that there are still NO tollfree IRS numbers listed on this HELP page, and the TAS numbers are in Puerto Rico. I suggest you look up the long distance charges before you try waiting on hold for assistance via Puerto Rico.