Center for Fundamental Rights

Voting by mail: either everybody or nobody

The Center for Fundamental Rights analyzed the constitutionality of the new legal framework of Hungarian citizens voting abroad. In light of previous regulations and pertinent case law based on the decisions of the Constitutional Court, the Center found that the new legislative framework is in accordance with relevant constitutional requirements.

The Constitutional Court in one of its previous decisions ruled that the legislator can differentiate between voting groups. Therefore Parliament could define different voting procedures for out-of-country voters who have a legal residence in Hungary (voting person) and for those who do not have a legal residence in Hungary (voting by mail). From a legal point of view, Hungarian voters belong to two distinct groups based not on whether they actually live in Hungary or abroad, but based on whether they have a registered address in Hungary. This different legal status is the only constitutional rationale based on which registration and voting procedures may differ.

All voters who have a permanent residence in Hungary enjoy the same legal status; therefore the same procedures must apply to every voter who belongs to this group. The legislator could either make it possible for all voters who have a permanent residence in Hungary to vote by mail – which would lead to incoherencies – or could apply the currently effective rules of voting in person.