elections

Still Time for British Expats to Register to Vote in General Election

by Ray Clancy on April 14, 2015

British expats are being reminded that there is still time to register to vote in the UK’s forthcoming general elections.

The registration deadline is Monday 20 April and the UK Electoral Commission said it is important for any UK citizen overseas that wishes to register for a postal vote to do so as quickly as possible so that they can receive and return their postal ballot packs in good time before polling day.

UK voteEstimates show that there could be as many as 5.5 million UK citizens living overseas. Not all will be eligible to register as overseas voters but the most recent figures showed that there were only 15,849 overseas voters on the UK electoral registers.

Since the introduction of the new online registration portal in June 2014, tens of thousands of UK citizens from all around the world have logged on to use the system. In comparison, ahead of last year’s European Parliamentary elections 7,079 overseas voter registration forms were downloaded, using the previous paper application form.

UK citizens who have previously been registered to vote in a UK Parliamentary constituency in the last 15 years may be eligible to register as an overseas elector. Overseas voters can choose to vote either by post or by proxy where a trusted person is nominated to vote on behalf of another.

‘There is now just a matter of days left until the 20 April deadline, so we’re encouraging UK expats to join the many others who have already registered to vote online,’ said Alex Robertson, director of communications at the Electoral Commission.

‘It takes just a few minutes at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and is far easier than the old, paper based process. There’s been a great response so far and we don’t want anyone to miss out on having their say on polling day,’ he added.

The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Its aim is to uphold the integrity and public confidence in the UK’s democratic process. They regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections and are responsible for the conduct and regulation of referendums held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000).

The Commission is working with a range of partners to help promote overseas voter registration and its overseas campaign is supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Cabinet Office

There have been two relatively recent estimates of the total number of UK citizens living abroad. One by the Institute for Public Policy Research, in 2006, put the number at 5.5 million and one by the World Bank, in 2010, estimated it to be 4.7 million.

The deadline for receiving new postal vote and postal proxy applications is 5pm on Tuesday 21 April 2015. The deadline for proxy vote applications is 5pm on Tuesday 28 April 2015.

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