Since 1990, nearly 100 countries extended voting rights to citizens living abroad, including 32 in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the actual ability for emigrants to vote in subsequent elections varies widely. Whereas others view diaspora enfranchisement as a signal to emigrant and international audiences, the author of this article argues that incumbent parties expand or restrict emigrant voter access depending on party perceptions of political support abroad. She first leverages the multiple reversals over emigrant inclusion in South African elections since 1994 to illuminate how changing dynamics between an incumbent party and citizens abroad shape emigrant voter access. She further tests her argument with an original dataset covering multiple dimensions of external voting in every African election where emigrants had voting rights from 1990 to 2015. She finds a robust relationship between emigrant voter access and diaspora support for the incumbent party.
Elizabeth Iams Wellman, Emigrant Inclusion in Home Country Elections: Theory and Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa, American Political Science Review, 2020.