Austrian citizens residing abroad have the right to cast their votes in national elections, elections to the European Parliament, and national referenda. The following overview should help non-German speaking Austrians become better informed about their voting rights. In-depth information, however, is only available in German.In order to have his / her vote counted, an Austrian citizen residing abroad must:
- be over the age of 16 on election day
- have been registered with an Austrian village or town (solely for election purposes)
- not be excluded from the right to vote (e.g. while serving a prison term)
- have both applied for an absentee ballot and received one in time
- return the ballot to the election authorities in Austria within a specified time-limit
Please note: Your voter registration is valid for ten years. If you want to continue to be able to vote in Austrian elections, please renew your registration at least every ten years. A signed application form together with a copy of your valid Austrian passport should be sent either directly to the relevant town / village in Austria or to the Consulate General in Chicago.
If you are an Austrian citizen who does not permanently reside in Austria, you must register (voter registration procedure) with a town or village in Austria in order to have your name added to a local "voter register". If your name is not registered on this "voter register," you cannot apply for an absentee ballot and you will not be able to cast your vote.
The voter registration application and the instructions on how to fill out the form are available online (however both pdf-files are in German). Once you have filled out the application, please send it together with a copy of your valid Austrian passport to either the relevant town / village in Austria or to the Consulate General in Chicago.
Absentee Ballot and How to Cast Your Vote
Once the elections have been officially announced, each Austrian citizen (as long as he/she is registered) can apply for an absentee ballot. The application for an absentee ballot is to be forwarded (via mail, fax, e-mail, or online) to the Austrian town/village which has entered you into its "voter register." Please note that your application for an absentee ballot must include your name, your date of birth, the number of your valid Austrian passport, and the exact address your ballot should be sent to.
Immediately after having received your absentee ballot, you may actually vote. In any case, you must cast your vote before the last polling station in Austria is scheduled to close (note the time difference - most of the year, Austria is seven hours ahead of Chicago). Please note that both envelopes you have received - the small one and the larger one - must be properly closed and sealed.
In order to prevent any fraud from happening, someone must certify your identity (to make sure it was really you who cast the vote) on the absentee ballot. This individual must be: a) an Austrian citizen over the age of 16 holding a valid Austrian passport, or b) a notary public, or c) a consular official working at the Consulate (General). If you cast your vote for the elections to the European Parliament, the individual certifying your identity can also be an EU citizen both eligible to vote and holding a valid EU passport.
The absentee ballot must then be returned to the provincial elections commissions in Austria. Your vote will not be counted if the ballot does not arrive there on the eighth day after election day at noon time (local Austrian time) at the latest. (For the first round of the presidential elections, it is the fifth day and not the eighth).