Brian Cave is a British expatriate who has diligently registered to vote via his local UK Election Registration Officer for the past 14 years while resident in France. He has written in protest to his current MP Mark Harper because he will lose his national right to vote in the UK from August of next year under the current 15-year-rule for British citizens overseas. This responsible and committed voter has just received the 23rd July, 2012 letter below in response from Mark Harper.
In answering one of his current constituents, Mr Harper goes beyond the standard government response and enters into more detail on a number of the issues surrounding the 15-year-rule. However, this level of increased detail tends to obscure the fact that the major issue is the removal of the current 15 year time limit on British expatriates voting from overseas, without requiring changes to the current electoral administration process involving the UK local authorities or special expatriate constituencies.
A major problem in engaging the attention of politicians is the low registration rates of those expatriates still with the right to vote and Mark Harper picks this up again in the last paragraph in admitting the lack of knowledge of contact addresses for them. Giving more time for the postal vote is no great solution if the address/contact details of the expats are not known! The Electoral Commission website www.aboutmyvote.co.uk is available for you as a qualifying expatriate to be able to register.
If you find that you no longer have the right to vote in the UK as a result of the 15-year-rule, we would appreciate you adding your vote in support of our campaign here.
Looking to the future , however, and within the current Electoral Registration Bill as it passes through Parliament, shouldn’t the legislation include the requirement for British citizens intending to move abroad to provide contact details such as a forwarding e-mail address/ postal address (as they would for their normal affairs) to maintain the integrity of the Electoral Register?
In fact, the existing on-line LOCATE database maintained by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) already provides a convenient and ready means for British expatriates and also British citizens travelling abroad to make available their contact details. Why not use it?