KUWAIT: 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.” – KUNA