Colby Minear studies Marketing and Management with a minor in International Business at the University of Kentucky. He spent some time this spring working with the Silicon Allee team.
For the past few years, we here at Silicon Allee have been active in voicing our concerns about regulations in the European Union that put the entrepreneurial spirit across the continent at risk, and the time is coming soon when we as a community will have a chance to stand up and affect change on a grand scale. The negligence of broad stroke copyright regulation and oppressive tax frameworks meant to limit large corporations threaten the ability of start-ups to reach their full potential. But we have already spoken about our concern regarding these policies, and now is the time to let our votes do the talking.
From May 26th until May 29th, the ninth election of the European Parliament will take place, and the results will have a direct impact on entrepreneurs across the continent. We think it is imperative that the start-up community participates in voting for those candidates who will stand up for our communal interests and work towards clearing a path for the European tech sector to grow and spurn innovation in the economy forward. That starts with us here at Silicon Allee, and it starts with YOU reading this right now. Of course you can vote for whomever you want, but the most important thing is that you complete that massive first step — VOTING! But how does it work? We have put together some information to help you get your bearings and make the process easier.
Who’s Eligible to Vote?
The necessary factors for eligibility to vote vary slightly from country to country in the EU. Here in Germany you have to be an EU citizen who is at least 18 years old. You must also have a German residence and have lived in Germany or an EU country for a consecutive three month period, and you cannot have been disqualified from voting by your municipality. Typically, if you are an EU citizen living abroad in the EU, you are entitled to vote EITHER in your host country OR your home country’s European Parliament election, but not both. Be sure to look up your specific country’s eligibility laws.
How Do I Register?
Those eligible to vote in Germany will be sent a “voter’s notification” (Wahlbenachrichtigung) from their local municipality no later than 21 days before the election. If you have not received this by May 5th, or if you want to make sure that you are eligible before this date, you should reach out to your local municipality (otherwise known as a constituency) to verify whether you are entered in the voters’ register. If you are from abroad and living in Germany, it would be prudent to reach out as soon as possible to ensure that everything is properly set up for you to be able to vote.
Where Do I Vote?
All of the pertinent information as to when the election is, where your polling station is, when the station is open, and more can be found on the voter’s notification once it has been received. Again, if you have not received your voter’s notification by May 5th you will need to reach out to your local municipality directly to find out why and what you need to do in order to vote. If there was a mistake and you did not receive your notification, the municipality will be able to provide you with the pertinent information. If you did not receive it because you are not registered to vote, you will be able to lodge a complaint with the hopes of rectifying the issue. That being said, it would be advisable not to wait, as this process will be far more stressful and complicated than reaching out to your municipality before the deadline to ensure that you are properly registered.
Why Should I Vote?
To ensure that your vision of the future of Europe has a voice. Whether you work in tech or not, these transnational elections are your chance to have a say in the direction an entire continent goes from here. Given the rise of nationalism, Brexit and the looming climate change catastrophe, this is one of the most important elections in Europe’s history.
For us at Silicon Allee and our community, that means voting for candidates who understand the value that a free and thriving technology startup sector can provide and will take action to fulfill that vision. It is everyone’s responsibility to fight against complacency and spend the time to vote. If you do not make your voice heard, there is nobody who will do it for you. In fact, our international community, being made up of many non-EU citizens, has no voice in these elections. Look to the left or right of you in your office, there’s likely an expat who has no say in the government of the continent where they work and pay taxes. You’re voting for them too!
What if I Can’t Vote?
Unfortunately, if you are not an EU citizen, you will not be able to vote in the upcoming election. That does not mean that you cannot do anything to help, however. Get involved in the community, speak up, try and spread the message and encourage those who can vote to vote. Share this article!
Also, there are many avenues where you could still affect change. “Hier lebe ich hier wähle ich” is just one example of a movement trying to amplify democracy in Germany. They have set up symbolic polling stations across the nation where non-citizens can go to have their voices heard. Find a way to have an impact, whether or not it is with a ballot. Share with us here or on social media how you’re getting involved and we will be sure to amplify it!
For more detailed information on voting regulations in Germany and the EU, consult the resources below:
European Parliament — http://www.europarl.europa.eu/at-your-service/en/be-heard/elections
How To Vote In Germany — https://www.european-elections.eu/how-to-vote/germany
This Time I’m Voting — thistimeimvoting.eu
Regulations in Germany — https://www.bundeswahlleiter.de/en/europawahlen/2019.html