The national membership politics of external voting
External voting allows people who do not live in their country of citizenship – non-resident citizens – to vote in its national elections. By decoupling the boundaries of democracy from those of state territory, it reshapes the meaning and location of political community. This dissertation explores those changes. Its ultimate goal is to assess whether external voting is a legitimate democratic boundary. In order to do that, it empirically examines the conceptions of membership that animate the policy. It begins by presenting an original, practice-dependent, method for normatively evaluating democratic boundaries (Chapter 1). This method requires us to empirically understand the point and purpose of external voting in order to normatively assess it. In Chapter 2 it identifies external voting as a national membership practice and explains the original empirical locally grounded membership theory that it uses to recover the conceptions of national membership that are relevant to the policy in Ireland (Chapter 3), the USA (Chapter 4), France (Chapter 5), and Israel (Chapter 4). Finally, it reflects upon those conceptions to propose three original normative standards for external voting policies: nonexclusiveness, accessibility, and humility (Chapter 6). This dissertation explores what political membership means in an increasingly mobile and interconnected 21st century. Its original theory of democratic boundaries contributes to democratic theory, while its original account of the relationship between national membership and external voting contributes to migration studies, geography, and sociology. Further, in examining how non-resident citizens are included as members of the communities they physically leave, it has lessons for those broadly interested in the construction of political identity.