Should you vote, when you don’t live there?

Hello Joonies! 

We’re a few days from the elections in Iran and there’s been a lot of news activity around it.  However, if you’re an Iranian living abroad, the topic of the election might seem a little trickier.

A question posed to us by Nima Shirazi, the political analyst behind Wide Asleep in America, captures this exact catch-22. 

Do you think that, beyond having the legal right, Iranians and Iranian citizens living outside Iran have the moral right to vote in Friday’s presidential election despite not living in Iran?

If it is the obligation of Iranians living in Iran, and them alone, to chose the government under which they will live, whether they seek to challenge and change the system or to reinforce it, what role do Iranians abroad – some of whom have vastly different political and religious beliefs than Iranians in Iran – have in the vote?

Can “ex-patriot” voting be seen as a kind of foreign intervention for regime change (or reform), albeit a peaceful kind, or – conversely – could the act of voting itself be seen as legitimating a political system one may disagree with?

Are the circumstances different for Iranian citizens who have never visited Iran, never lived in Iran or who, perhaps, don’t ever plan on going/returning?

Here is an excerpt from his article, featuring our answers, which you can check out here:

Iranians are not monolithic. Like any large community of human beings the world over, Iranians and Iranian citizens, living in Iran or abroad, have diverse opinions on everything from religion to politics to family to everything in between. Just like here in the United States, or any other country for that matter, there are those who support the government, and those who oppose it; those who thinking voting is important, those who consider it merely symbolic, and others who find it pointless, or worse.

Blogger, Sex and Fessenjoon

I think that policies put forth by the Iranian regime affect all Iranian citizens – regardless of their physical location. All Iranian citizens have the moral right to vote – just as US citizens have the right to vote even if they live in a different country. Because no matter what their location is, they still feel the burden of the country’s laws especially if they have family, money, property, etc. in Iran.

I don’t believe that expats or non-residents with different religious/political preference should have their vote taken away because their voice still resonates among Iranians within Iran – whether they are Muslim or not, Jewish or not, reformist or not. I think that it’s very bold to assume that my political beliefs aren’t supported anywhere within Iran… and vice versa. And if that’s a reason for people to not vote – then why do we allow political parties in other countries? I believe it is absolutely crucial for every voice to be represented in a vote.

If you’re asking whether I think it’s WORTH voting in the Iranian election, well that’s a different story…

Blogger, Sex and Fessenjoon

Do I believe Iranians abroad have a legal right to vote? Absolutely.

A moral one? Not at all.

Unless an Iranian living abroad has spent a significant time in Iran, there is not much value in their perspective. Many of us born and raised abroad have grown familiar with our heritage and culture by making frequent visits to our motherland. This, by no means, translates into understanding the vast impact government policies and sanctions have on day-to-day life. If a vote is a tally-mark for change, how can I know what change is the right one? I would not vote in France’s election, despite having traveled their many times– and I don’t believe I’m entitled to voting in Iran’s election, despite my emotional or familial ties.

At the end of the day, an ‘educated vote’ is rare — and I can read news articles all day, but my vote would be based on my biased firsthand experience of living in America, and rendezvousing Tehran during the Summer. I believe in aiding the Iranian people and my family in Iran in helping bring about the change they want by standing in solidarity with them, and that is silent, unconditional solidarity.

Click to read the rest!

What do you joonies think? To Vote or not to Vote?

Read more of Nima’s work here: Wide Asleep in America

Tweet him here: @WideAsleepNima





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