Tories urge British expats to register to vote in forthcoming election

by Ray Clancy on March 9, 2010

Millions of British expats are eligible to vote in the forthcoming general election and are being urged to make sure they can by the Conservative political party which is hoping to defeat the ruling Labour party.

They include people who have been on an electoral role in the UK in the last 15 years and those who were aged under 18 when the left the country, provided they didn’t leave more than 15 years ago.

‘I encourage expats to find out more about overseas voter registration. Encourage any friends and family also living outside the UK to follow your example by registering to vote,’ said Conservative leader David Cameron.

As an expat you have to register every year as an overseas elector which means that you can vote in parliamentary elections held during the 12 months of your registration. You can register at any time and don’t need to wait until an election is called but few do. The most recent figures show that only 14,000 expats were registered at the end of 2007, far fewer than the number that leave every year.

According to Conservatives Abroad, of the five million British citizens currently resident overseas, some 2.5 million of them could vote in the next general election. However, at the last election just fewer than 20,000 expats were registered to vote so 2.48 million expats missed out on influencing who runs the country.

‘Just because they are not living in the UK it does not mean that they have lost interest in what is happening in Britain. They are still proud to be British and want to see Britain prosper.

Many Britons living overseas still have family and friends living in the UK for whom they want the best,’ said a spokesman.

‘Many expats still have financial interests in the UK. They may still have a property in the UK, or they might be paying tax on the pension that they draw from the UK. When they vote in UK elections they can vote for what will be best for their country, and what is best for their friends and family still living in the UK. Many expats decide to come home after a few years overseas. For all these reasons, it is right that their voice should be heard in a British election,’ he added.

If you register is means voting in the constituency where you were last registered to vote before leaving the UK and you can vote by post or by proxy. The UK general election is expected to be called in May and postal ballots are only sent out 10 days before the voting day. Because there can be long postal delays from foreign countries many choose the proxy option.

Registering and voting as an overseas elector is not taken into account in determining whether you have UK domicile for tax purposes.

Assuming the date of the General Election will be the first week in May 6th, there is less than a month to register.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Howard March 9, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I am living in South Africa on contract. How do I vote in the next election

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Brian Howard March 9, 2010 at 7:41 pm

I should have said, what is the method of voting from South Africa in the next General Election?

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James Drewer March 10, 2010 at 11:43 am

More information about overseas voting can be found at http://www.dontleaveyourvoteathome.com

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