British expats in Europe to ensure they can vote in upcoming elections

by Ray Clancy on February 20, 2014

British expats living in Europe are being encouraged to register so they can vote in the European Parliamentary elections in May.

The Electoral Commission has launched an international campaign in a bid to boost the number of expats on the UK’s electoral registers.

UK vote

Wednesday 26 February as Overseas Registration Day by the Electoral Commission

It has declared Wednesday 26 February as Overseas Registration Day and points out that many expats don’t realise that they are eligible to vote in the election which takes place on Thursday 22 May.

‘Estimates show that there may be as many as 5.5 million UK citizens living overseas, but the latest figures showed that there were only around 20,000 on the UK electoral registers. Many of those living overseas do not even know that they may be eligible to vote in some UK elections, so it’s important that our campaign is as far reaching as possible,’ said Samantha Mills of the Electoral Commission.

‘This is why we are urging expats to take five minutes on Overseas Registration Day to visit and make sure they will be able to have their say,’ she added.

The registration rules mean that every British citizen who has been registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years is eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections and European Parliamentary elections.

Those who were too young to register when they left the UK can still register as an overseas voter as long as their parent or guardian was registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years.

Expats can download a registration form and as long as it is returned by Tuesday 06 May they will be able to vote.

People living in the UK are also being asked to spread the word amongst their friends and family living overseas.

Mills also said it is also important for expats to think about how they are going to cast their vote. Ballot papers can be sent overseas but people must think about whether they have time to receive and return these papers by polling day. Those who think they might not have time may want to consider voting by proxy. This involves nominating a person they trust in the UK to vote on their behalf.

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