How can Italian citizens vote from abroad?

All Italian citizens can vote in the upcoming election, but if you’re abroad there are specific arrangements and deadlines to know about.

Ballot papers in an Italian polling station.
Italian citizens residing abroad will receive their ballot papers at their registered foreign address. Photo by Giulio NAPOLITANO / AFP

All Italian citizens over the age of 18 are eligible to vote in the upcoming general election, scheduled for Sunday, September 25th. 

However, while Italian residents will be required to cast their vote at their local polling station (i.e. the one located in their municipality of residence, or comune) on the above-mentioned date, Italians living abroad will have the opportunity to vote by post in line with the conditions and deadlines set by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministero degli Esteri). 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who’s who in Italy’s general election?

So what are these conditions and deadlines? 

First of all, in the case of Italian citizens permanently residing abroad (i.e. for a period of at least 12 months), the option to vote by post is only granted to those registered with AIRE (Anagrafe degli Italiani residenti all’estero), the register containing the personal data of all Italians living in a foreign country.

Registering with AIRE is free of charge and it can be done through the online ministerial portal available at this link or in person at the relevant Italian consulate. 

Those who are not registered with AIRE but expect to reside abroad for a period of at least three months – the election date must fall within this period of time – are also given the opportunity to vote by post. 

Ballot papers being stamped at an Italian polling station.

Voters must make sure that ballot papers are received by the relevant consulate by 4pm on Thursday, September 22nd. Photo by Giulio NAPOLITANO / AFP

However, in this case, citizens are required to communicate that they wish to vote by post through the following form, which must be filled out and sent to the relevant Italian comune via post, email or proxy.

For this year’s elections, all forms had to be received by the relevant comune by August 24th. 

Those who managed to have the form delivered by the above deadline and those correctly registered with AIRE should receive their ballot papers (usually, a pink one for the Chamber of Deputies and yellow one for the Senate) through the mail at their registered foreign address.

The papers will come in an envelope (plico elettorale) including instructions on how to return the ballots to the relevant consulate.

All voters should receive their ballots by September 11th

If, come September 12th, you have not received your plico yet, you should be able to ask for a duplicate by getting in touch with the Italian consulate of your country of residence.

READ ALSO: Have your say: How do you feel about Italy’s elections?

In the past, some individual consulates organised special collection times for anyone who had not yet received their ballot papers. Please check with your consulate to find out whether arrangements of this kind have been (or will be) made in your country of residence.

Once votes have been cast, voters are responsible for ensuring that their completed ballots are received by their consulate by 4pm local time on Thursday, September 22nd at the latest. 

Ballot papers received after the above deadline will not be accepted as consulates will officially start sending the ballots to Italy for counting (scrutinio).

Find all the latest news on Italy’s election race here.

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Italian PM Meloni refuses to back down on reporter ‘defamation’ trial

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Tuesday she will not withdraw her defamation suit against anti-mafia reporter Roberto Saviano, despite growing criticism that her position of power might skew the trial in her favour.

Italian PM Meloni refuses to back down on reporter 'defamation' trial

On Tuesday, the hard-right leader told Italian daily Corriere della Sera that she was confident the case would be treated with the necessary “impartiality”.

Meloni sued anti-mafia reporter Saviano for alleged defamation after he called her a “bastard” in a 2020 televised outburst over her attitude towards vulnerable migrants.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party was in opposition at the time, but took office last month after an electoral campaign that promised to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa.

Press freedom watchdogs and supporters of Saviano have called for the trial, which opened earlier in November, to be scrapped.

READ ALSO: Anti-mafia reporter on trial for ‘defaming’ Italy’s far-right PM

“I don’t understand the request to withdraw the complaint on the pretext that I am now prime minister,” Meloni said.

“I believe that all this will be treated with impartiality, considering the separation of powers.”

She also added: “I am simply asking the court where the line is between the legitimate right to criticise, gratuitous insult and defamation.”

Saviano, best known for his international mafia bestseller “Gomorrah”, faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

The case dates back to December 2020 when Saviano was asked on a political TV chat show for a comment on the death of a six-month-old baby from Guinea in a shipwreck.

On the occasion, he railed at Meloni, who in 2019 had said that charity vessels which rescue migrants “should be sunk”.

Saviano is not the only journalist Meloni is taking to trial. One of the country’s best-known investigative reporters, Emiliano Fittipaldi, said last week the prime minister had sued him for defamation.

READ ALSO: Italian PM Meloni takes another investigative reporter to court

That trial is set to start in 2024.

Watchdogs say such trials are symbolic of a culture in Italy in which public figures intimidate reporters with repeated lawsuits, threatening the erosion of a free press.