In Italy, as in many other states around the world, voting is a constitutional right of all citizens over 18 years of age. According to Article 48 of the Constitution, voting is a civic duty, and it is most important to be able to contribute to decisions that affect the life of our country.
Unfortunately, however, exercising this right for off-site students is not always easy. In fact, according to current regulations, one cannot vote in a municipality other than one’s place of residence, which is why it can become quite problematic. Whether it is time for regional, local, political or whatever elections, life for off-campus students also seems to be tough when it comes to voting.
Issues of out-of-state students
We assume that an out-of-state student cannot vote in his or her host city during the college years, and that the only solution is currently to return home. The journey to the municipality of residence to exercise the right to vote can prove to be long and expensive, and can waste valuable time, as voting may take place during exam or class periods.
The time spent, unfortunately, no one will reimburse it, but fortunately, Italian law allows people to take advantage of a number of discounts on transportation in order to get home to vote, valid for both off-site students and traveling workers.
Trenitalia ticket discount
Trenitalia allows you to purchase discounted tickets from the 10th day before voting for the outbound, and until the 10th day after voting for the return. The discount that is applied is 70 percent for Frecciarossa and Frecciargento high-speed trains and Intercity and Intercity night trains, and 60 percent for regional trains. Discounts are valid for travel in second class or Standard level of Frecciarossa.
The Trenitalia discount for voting, however, is not automatic: cannot be done online, but to obtain it you must go to an authorized ticket office or travel agency, and show your ID, voter card (or a substitute statement attesting to its possession), and, in the case of the return trip, the stamp stating that you have voted.
Italo ticket discount
Italo also allows discounts and reductions for out-of-town students who decide to return home to vote. In fact, the company gives a 60 percent discount on round-trip tickets on Flex or Economy fares, in Smart or Comfort environment. On board the train, it is necessary to carry an ID and voter ID card, to be shown to the conductor when requested.
Italo, unlike Trenitalia, also allows the purchase of the reduced ticket to vote from its website.
Alitalia ticket discount
Many out-of-town students find it more convenient and quicker to travel by plane instead of train, especially when distances are long or in the case of Sicilian or Sardinian students studying in another region. Those who decide to return home to vote may choose to travel with Alitalia: our former national airline provides a discount of 40 euros off the total cost of the round-trip flight, which, however, is only applicable if the cost of the ticket is more than 40 euros, exclusive of sales services, surcharges and taxes.
Verification takes place at the airport: at the boarding gate, and possibly earlier at check-in as well, you will need to show the ground staff your voter ID card, both on the outward and the return journey. In the latter case, the clerks will also check that it has been duly stamped and dated, thus certifying that the vote has been cast.
Ferry ticket discount
Tirrenia, now the Compagnia Italiana di Navigazione (CIN), which connects Sardinia, Sicily and the Tremiti Islands with the mainland, allows students or off-site workers to purchase a 60 percent discounted ticket as long as they travel from 10 days before the vote until 10 days after.
To purchase it, you must show the staff a valid ID and your voter ID card, which as usual on return should contain the voting stamp.
A small but important exception
The only exception to what has just been seen concerns referendums: in fact, in this case, out-of-state students can have themselves delegated as list representatives, and by this stratagem they acquire the ability to vote in the municipality of domicile instead of the municipality of residence. This is because, according to the law, it is possible to have list representatives delegated only in the constituency of residence, which is unique nationwide on referendum occasions.
What the future holds for us
The issue of voting for out-of-state students has already been debated several times, but the political class seems not to care about this issue. It still hasn’t been figured out, and unfortunately the only way to vote is to go home. But that could change, as in December 2019 an appeal was filed with the Palermo court to recognize the right to vote for mobile citizens as well, with a request to take the matter to the Constitutional Court: the first hearing is set for October 7, 2020.
READ ALSO:“Out-of-office or commuter: pros and cons.”
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