Who in Switzerland is allowed to vote
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Who in Switzerland is allowed to vote

September 28, 2019


Who in Switzerland is allowed to vote? Of course, the Constitution and other laws
lay down the rules for every situation. But let’s look at a normal case. Take Anna. She is Swiss and has just turned 18. Now she has the right to vote. Anna gets her voting papers automatically,
because her local commune has registered her as a voter. What would happen if Anna had dual nationality? No problem.
Dual nationality does not affect your right to vote in Switzerland. Here’s Philippe. He has moved to Paris for a few years;
that’s where he lives and works now. Although he lives abroad,
he can still take part in federal votes and elections. To do so, Philippe had to register with the Swiss embassy in Paris
as a Swiss citizen living abroad and make sure he is registered on the electoral roll
in his last commune of residence in Switzerland. He receives his voting papers from Switzerland by post. Can Philippe also vote on matters in his home canton? Yes, in his canton it is possible,
but this is not the case everywhere: only around half of the cantons allow the Swiss abroad
to vote on cantonal matters. This is Tiago. He has lived in Switzerland for five years
but he is not a Swiss citizen. He can vote in his commune and in his canton. When it comes to foreign residents voting,
Switzerland’s federalist system leads to differences: some cantons allow foreign residents to vote
at communal and in some cases cantonal level, while other cantons do not. However, one rule applies throughout Switzerland: if you are not Swiss, you cannot vote at federal level. Switzerland would not be Switzerland
if it did not have other federalist idiosyncrasies. In the canton of Glarus, for example, you can vote on cantonal and communal issues from the age of sixteen. And in Glarus,
as in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, the electorate gathers to vote in the open air,
at people’s assemblies. The canton of Schaffhausen has its own particular peculiarity: there, voting is compulsory. Anyone who doesn’t vote has to pay a fine. That makes a difference for the canton;
it is the Swiss champion when it comes to voter turnout.

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