How to Vote an an Italian Living Abroad

VOTE!There has been a *huge* increase in requests for recognition of Italian citizenship over the past several years–my and my father’s requests included.

Along with “creating” many more Italian citizens in the world, this also means that many (non- or little-speaking Italian) people are becoming eligible to vote in Italian elections for the first times in their lives.

And believe me, the process is *very* different than in the United States.

As I think there may be quite a few people out there confused by the instructions, I’m going to break it down here, in English, and urge you–if you are an Italian citizen, PLEASE exercise your right to VOTE in this election.


Every Italian citizen residing abroad should be registered with the local consulate in the A.I.R.E. (Anagrafe Italiani Residenti Estero). If you are, you should have already received a packet from your consulate including:

  • Your electoral certificate (with your name on giving you the right to vote);
  • Two (2) different colored ballots (pink for the Camera dei Deputati and blue for the Senato); if you are under the age of 25, you will receive only a ballot for the Camera;
  • Two (2) envelopes (one small, blank, and white and the other larger and self-addressed and stamped to your consulate);
  • The list of candidates for your area; and
  • An information sheet.

1. First of all, grab and use a blue or black pen.

2. Now, an aside to explain a little of what’s going on with the ballots: below the main candidates, all of the people on their “lists” are from the “estero” or outside Italy; those elected will represent your interests as an Italian citizen residing abroad.

Depending on where you live, you will be able to vote for differing numbers of deputati and senatori–don’t worry, the number of blank lines will tell you how many you are allowed to write in.

If you are in North or Central America like my dad, for example, you can vote for 2 deputati and 1 senatore.

So . . .

3. To vote, you place an X over the logo of the party of your choice.

My advice is this one:

Partito Democratico

Vote for Veltroni! Woohoo!

4. Now you can write in your choices for senatori and deputati as described above being extremely careful to copy the names exactly as printed on the list. And don’t write anything else!

[If you would like my suggestions on senatori and deputati please contact me privately; find information on the candidates (in Italian) here.]

5. Fold and put your two ballots in the small blank white envelope and seal it.

6. Put that envelope inside the bigger envelope addressed to the consulate.

7. Tear off the bottom part of your electoral certificate at the perforation, put that in the big envelope with the ballots, and seal it.

8. Mail it off–it must be received by your consulate by April 10–and wait for election results.

Optional: buy some prosecco if you’re feeling particularly confident in your party.

This page has a fabulous graphic of this whole process. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or contact me.

And, in case I haven’t been clear . . .


*Special thanks to the website of Gino Bucchino, candidate for Camera dei Deputati for Central and North America with Partito Democratico‘s (and my) main man, Walter Veltroni; and I’m not just saying this because Bucchino was born in Calabria, I swear.

21 Beans of Wisdom to “How to Vote an an Italian Living Abroad”
  1. I applaud you for being so active in your country’s election. More and more people need to get involved and let their voice be known!

    Jen @ One Moms World’s last blog post..First Week Operation Spring Weight Off

    Thanks Jen, and I completely agree; I’m also voting in the American elections too, and so should everyone who can!

  2. 03.31.2008

    My husband will kiss you when he reads this post! It has been fun watching what is going on in America and comparing it to our own elections here. I have been trying to understand Italian politics since I moved here! Why does it have to be so complicated???

    It will be interesting to see what happens. Though I can’t vote, I can still pray that Veltroni wins!


    Cyn’s last blog post..Buon Compleanno Amore Mio

    It is quite complicated at every turn here, at least for those of us who didn’t grow up with it πŸ˜‰ Also please feel free to claim that kiss from your hubby that’s directed at me…and go Veltroni!

  3. 03.31.2008

    So, you lucky democratic get to vote in 2 elections huh?

    My Melange’s last blog post..Italian Cinema

    Yes yes, or sΓ¬ sΓ¬! Double the Democratic fun πŸ™‚

  4. 03.31.2008

    Thanks Michelle! It’s important that everyone add their “two beans” in this election.
    I’m particularly excited because after 12 years I’ll finally be able to vote (I became a citizen in ’06).
    So there, Lega Nord! Speaking of Lega, I doubt they’ve been campaigning in your neck of the woods
    but here in Milan I saw one of their ridiculous new posters. It made me boiling mad!

    Lega Nord’s ridiculous new poster

    “They were victims of immigration and now they’re living in reserves. Think about it.” WTF!!!

    I mean, comparing affluent Northern Italians to Native Americans is outrageous. Sorry, I just had to
    get that off my chest!

    Linda’s last blog post..Food and marriage go together like Benigni and a red dress

    Woohoo for voting! Lega Nord is just crazy, and you’re right–they don’t campaign much down here (hah!). Thanks for sharing the poster. Wow.

  5. Greg

    I had to look up Veltroni as I was unfamiliar with him. I certainly like his leftist leanings. We could use some of that thinking on this side of the pond! Thanks for an informative post.

    Greg, IMHO Veltroni would be a great candidate even if he weren’t running against Berlu; thanks for stopping by and looking up his info.

  6. 03.31.2008

    Heh. Well, as you can imagine, I would vote for ol’ Topo Gigio (and I could) if I was over there. I have to admit to being more than a little of a vaffanculista, if you will. But the idea of going from the US of Bush to the Italy of Little Silvio and the Disciples of Stupid makes me wonder what’s the point.

    Then I get my tax bill and I remember.

    Do dual citizens pay dual tax?

    Paolo’s last blog post..Strange matters

    Basically Italian tax on Italian income and American tax on American income, more or less, although it’s a bit more complicated than that (surprise surprise)–no double taxation thank goodness.

    Sing it with me now…TO-TO-TO-TO-TO-TO-POOOOOO….

  7. LynK

    Thanks for this post. Very helpful. My husband and one daughter (aged 30) received their ballots. My 19 year old daughter did not receive anything. I note that one must be 25 to vote for Senate and House. Do you have to be 21 years old to vote for just the House? You mention that “if you are under the age of 25, you will receive only a ballot for the Camera”

    We are definitely supporting the PD.

    Glad you found it useful Lyn! As I emailed you, the voting age in Italy is 18 except for Senate elections (as far as I know–anyone know differently?) so your daughter should’ve received a ballot for the Camera. Contact that consulate of yours πŸ™‚

  8. 03.31.2008

    Interesting reading on the Italian election process. I do so enjoy your glimpses into the politics of Italy. Thanks for sharing. You get to vote in two elections, huh? Pretty cool.

    kacey’s last blog post..Reentry Into the Real World

    Yes! 2008 is my year of voting for 2 world leaders! Woohoo! Glad you enjoyed the info πŸ™‚

  9. Diana

    This was a huge help! Thank you so much! I’ve been a dual national for just over a year, and this is my first Italian election — so satisfying to be able to spread my left leaning political ideology beyond the U.S. — where it never seems to go far.

    I hear you Diana; glad to be of help πŸ™‚

  10. 04.01.2008

    You are sooo a good citizen of the world. Keep it up!

    Homebody at Heart’s last blog post..A Lovely Sunday Drive

    Just doing my part πŸ™‚

  11. Luigi

    As modest contribution to help understanding italian politics, this is a tool to determine your position in relation to most major political parties. It works the same as the equivalent tools which appear when there’s a major political event pretty much everywhere and it’s not really meant to be taken very serously, but it’s fun.

    It appears that I should vote pd (next best are socialisti or, quite surprisingly, destra. No Berlusconi however. That would have been scary! )

    Voi Siete Qui: Elezioni 2008

    I apologise if this happens to be old news. I just thought it was fun and worth mentioning.


    Not old news at all! Thanks so much for sharing (sorry it got sent to spam originally b/c of the link, but I rescued you!). As I suspected, I lean toward PD and socialisti. Very interesting (and a great exercise in Italian)!

  12. antonino

    Infact voting for Berlusconi is like to vote for Bush in U.S. I don’t know how many people think to vote for him….
    Thanks for your post Michelle, it’s an example for all Italians not only for Italians living abroad but also for Italians living in Italy. Well Done.

    So I want to invite all Italians abroad and in Italy to vote, vote vote vote, and for U.S. I say Let’s Go Obama.

    The comparison between Bush and Berlu is a great one Antonino–I still can’t figure out WHO is voting for him in all those polls. I haven’t come across anyone yet in person!

    As for the US, so long as McCain doesn’t continue the Bush administration, I’ll be happy.

  13. 04.02.2008

    Hi Michelle, I just posted on my little voting package that I received in the mail the other day. Do you know of any websites that have a break-down of the candidates and what they stand for? I’ll check out the link in Luigi comment as well. Thanks!! Joe

    Joe’s last blog post..Italy Vote 2008 – Take 1

    The only site I’ve heard mentioned is the one Luigi linked to, but another option is to find all the parties’ websites and read the “programma” there.

    For those Italians abroad who have decided on Veltroni and are deciding between the others on the ballot, you can find info on all of them (in Italian) here:

    Partito Democratico US

  14. 04.02.2008

    I think I’ll just delegate my father to vote for me as it’s a bit difficult to do the AIRE thing here in China. Anyway the “vote for Berlusconi” has always been a great mystery to me, it always looks like noone votes for him when you ask around, so I’m getting to the conclusion that in Italy we actually vote for someone just to be able to complain about him as soon as he’s elected! πŸ˜‰
    nice post, and thanks for your help!
    as a friend of mine says “se la scelta Γ¨ tra Berlusconi e mia zia, io voto mia zia!”

    Hah, that’s too funny Marco. Go zia go!

  15. 04.02.2008

    Hi Michelle,

    Great post. I wish I could vote just to NOT vote for Berlusconi. I was fortunate to observe the voting procedure once while visiting friends in Empoli. It was very interesting. Although they also voted at a school (like we do here in Hawaii), the procedures were quite different. I was able to peek in the doorway but not actually go in the room.

    I wrote about the Hawaii Caucus voting on my blog in February. I ended up being the conveener of my precinct which was quite exciting. If you are interested in reading about it, just put the word “caucus” in the search button on the sidebar and the 3 posts will pop up.

    Sounds interesting! I’ll definitely look it up. We vote in an old school up here in the village–the only thing the building is used for anymore sadly.

  16. 04.02.2008

    Hello guys,

    even if you can’t vote for me, I am running on Beppe Grillo’s list in Sicily and the last days have been awesome!

    I produced a funny video for my campaign:

    Just to understand the joke: Lombardo is the most powerful man in Sicily.



    Ciao BC, thanks for coming by and leaving that link–too funny πŸ™‚ There just might be some people reading who can vote in Sicily, so hopefully they’ll hop over and check out your programma!

  17. Daniel

    Thanks for your info.

    I am voting for Berlusconi though.

    He is the best thing for Italy.

    Too many people looking for too many handouts there.


    You’re welcome, Daniel; to each his own, but as a 5-year resident of “there” who is adversely affected every day by what Berlusconi did to Italy in his previous term, I wish you’d reconsider.

  18. 04.03.2008

    Sadly I cannot vote as my comune needs a copy of my birth certificate before I can go on the electrol role.. Next time… Do you really think Berlusconi won’t win? I am not so sure, in this country you never know. My boyfriend is very disheartened as he too is from Calabria, and he too shares your sentiments and does not like Berlusconi one bit.

    Leanne’s last blog post..How to tell if a house is ‘abusivo’

    What a pain in the arse Leanne! I’m kind of hoping all those people that keep saying they’re voting for Berlu in the polls are just lying πŸ˜‰

  19. Sally

    Yes, a very good post indeed. I agree with absolutely everything you’ve said. But not with Daniel. The problem is that Berlu keeps breaking the law and then changing it to get himself off the hook. No other western society would turn a blind eye to that. Also should it be allowed that a ‘politician’ (I use this term loosely) can have such influence over TV and press? Unfortunately, there are far too many people out “there” who swallow this rubbish.

    I weep silently for Italy: a country full of beautiful people, rich in art, blessed with an excellent climate, gifted with the best cuisine and wine and yet… probably the worst bureaucracy in Europe.

    I’ve rambled, it’s just that you touched a nerve.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts Sally. Hopefully lots of nerves have been touched this election time and that will show at the polls.

    Of course I agree with you, and it really, truly baffles me how someone can look at Berlu’s record (including changing laws to avoid convictions!) and think he’s what Italy needs. Sure lots of people in Italy would love a helping hand to get out of the mire that Berlu has put this country in (the cost of living is simply outrageous compared to stagnant salaries)–unfortunately Berlu’s amici are the only ones who ever get such “hand-outs.”

  20. Mauricio

    I am Italian citizen living in USA ( American resident) . I am not registered at AIRE.
    What do I need to do to vote or what happen if I do not vote.

    Mauricio, as an Italian living abroad who isn’t registered in AIRE, you would still be registered to vote wherever your last place of official residence was in Italy–which means you’d have to vote there. Without traveling back to Italy today or tomorrow, I don’t think there is a way for you to vote in this election.

    That said, you are *supposed* to register with your local Italian consulate in the US (just as a US citizen is *supposed* to register with the nearest US consulate in Italy); that way in case of emergencies, etc., they know you’re there and have your emergency contact info, etc. They are also your go-between for governmental things like voting (the US consulates, incidentally, don’t handle voting).

    Don’t worry, though–there is no penalty if you don’t vote in an Italian election. Although voting is, of course, encouraged, there is no punishment or fine if you don’t. It is listed as a right and not a duty in the Italian Constitution.

    Hope this helps πŸ™‚

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Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

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Ricotta Pound Cake