The previous objections below to British voters overseas quoted in the House of Commons Library Standard Note:SN/PC/5923 “Overseas Voters”, seem now rather outdated in an Internet age, when British citizens around the world were able to take pride in British achievements at the 2012 London Olympics, and are not impressed by a suggestion by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Clegg, that they should change nationality if they want to continue to vote after 15 years away from the UK.
Why not demonstrate your pride in being British and the undemocratic nature of the 15-year-limit by adding your vote in support here.
The past objections to overseas voters’ rights described in House of Commons Library, Standard Note: SN/PC/5923 “Overseas Voters” are answered below:
- Objection 1: It is unreasonable for people who have been away for so long to retain the right to vote because:
- They have only (distant) memories of past British politics.
- They have no personal knowledge of contemporary issues in the constituency where they used to live.
- They influence the election of a government of a country (the UK) to which they are not subject and may not be paying tax.
- Answer 1: For British voters overseas it is more about the right to vote on national issues in a General Election or e.g. in a possible National Referendum on continuing UK membership of the European Union (EU), of major concern to British overseas citizens resident within the EU. The UK can also choose to follow the example of the US which uses the power of the Internet to keep its citizens overseas politically informed, as they retain their right to vote from where ever they reside. While they retain a British passport, such British citizens remain British subjects and the responsibility of HMG and are invited to register on the LOCATE database of the FCO. As many British citizens overseas continue to pay UK taxes, the government has been forced to argue that the right to vote is not necessarily related to paying UK taxes or not.
- Objection 2: Electoral Administrators have pointed out that that there are costs attached to registering overseas citizens and that a shorter period might be cheaper and easier to operate.
- Answer 2: Electoral Administrators have raised similar increased cost objections to the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) for UK resident voters. This is why promotional efforts in the past towards overseas voters have been left mainly to the Electoral Commission to minimise costs to local government, with the responsibility placed on the individual overseas voter to register.
- Objection 3: There is a general lack of interest on the part of overseas British citizens, with only some 30,000 registered to vote out of an estimated 3 million (1%) still able to do so under the 15-year-rule.
- Answer 3: Overseas citizens in individually registering to vote via a currently rather cumbersome procedure, have been faced with the same difficulties raised by critics of the introduction of IER for UK resident voters, and who have predicted a similar fall-off in registered voters. However, data-matching projects can also be exploited using e.g. available embassy/consulate records, passport, tax, driving licence data, pension records of British citizens overseas etc. , to increase registration rates. The Internet can again provide a convenient means for initial self-registration by the overseas citizen, before further verification by the authorities concerned.
- Objection 4: Overseas voters will cause disruption of or distort the actual results for UK resident voters.
- Answer 4: The present situation with relatively few overseas British citizens actually voting and then thinly spread over the constituencies in which they were formerly resident, does not support this objection. Those most likely to register will be those with the greater commitment to the UK and those most likely to be planning to return in the future. Introducing Individual Electoral Registration, a form of which is already required of overseas voters, is not likely to significantly increase their numbers either, unless more effort is made to connect with overseas citizens e.g. via data-matching projects. However, removal of the current 15-year-limit on their voting rights will encourage those overseas British citizens who are motivated to vote but impacted by this rule, to exercise their democratic right to register and vote in UK national elections.
Vote your support on http://www.votes-for-expat-brits.com/Sign-up-Poll.php