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Voting from Abroad: It's Election Day!

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Travelling from Toronto, Canada to Turin, Italy for the EU elections was a meaningful experience, which was filled with reflection and hope for the future. How did it go?
Me in front of a poster do the EU Elections
European Election Day in Italy!

After a 30-hour trip, I managed to arrive home in time for the European Elections! My journey started in Toronto and I had a stop in Halifax, Canada and Frankfurt, Germany before arriving in Turin, Italy!


In Italy, the European Elections took place on June 8th from 15:00 to 23:00 and on June 9th from 7:00 to 23:00. 


I decided to vote on the first day. Since I had the entire morning free, I started my day with a traditional Italian breakfast – a cappuccino and a pistachio croissant (we Italians never drink cappuccino after 11 am!). Afterward, I took a little walk around the city, enjoying the feeling of being home again and appreciating my role as an active citizen. As I strolled through familiar streets, I wondered how Europe might change and I felt filled with hope for the future.


When it was time to vote, I headed to my assigned polling station, which was located in my old middle school. Stepping into the school brought back memories; the last time I was there was two years ago for the Italian General Election in 2022. 

The process of voting in the European Elections was straightforward and simple. There were flyers on the streets reminding us of the upcoming EU elections, and inside the building, posters lined the corridors, explaining how to vote and listing the parties. This made it easy to review the information while waiting for my turn.


In that moment, I felt a sense of excitement as I realized I was exercising my right to vote and I was shaping my future. We often hear that our lives and futures are in our hands, and I believe that voting is a powerful way to make that statement true. The people at the polling station were kind and friendly. We chatted while they registered my documents, and they expressed their happiness at seeing young people participate in the elections. On the same day, we also voted for the new mayor of the Piedmont region, and I cast my vote for both elections.


The next day, the last day of voting, I went to Milan to meet with my Erasmus Student Network family. We discussed the importance of voting, especially among young people. Unfortunately, in the evening, we discovered that the turnout was low, with less than half of Italians voting, and we learnt that participation in the EU elections has been decreasing over the years.


Many people didn't vote because they felt disconnected from the parties or didn't feel represented. Others were abroad and couldn't vote in person, as Italian citizens can only vote from their residence town to the assigned pool station or, if living in another EU country, by registering with the AIRE (Register of Italians Living Abroad) which they could do if they were going to live in that country for more than 12 months. This made it particularly challenging for young people, who often could not afford to fly home just to vote.


While in Toronto, I met many young Italians seeking better opportunities. They wanted to participate in the elections but could not return to Italy due to the distance and the high cost of flights. As just few people know, the Italian Government did not allow voting from embassies in non-EU countries during these elections, creating a difficult situation for those abroad.


But looking ahead, I hope that by the next EU elections, we will have the possibility to vote from abroad. As a traveler, this change would mean a lot to me, knowing that I could still have a say in my country's future no matter where I am in the world.


Thank you for joining me on my journey home for the elections. Until next time!