This comment below just received from Linda Stubbings who lives in Spain with her husband, a retired police officer, gives a good indication as to why a lot of British expatriates find it almost impossible to vote. It also presents a good explanation for the low registration and voting rates for the British expatriate community in general.
“I live in Spain and in a few years will come under the 15-year-rule and, therefore, unable to vote. My husband is a retired police officer and, therefore, his pension is taxed in the UK and cannot be transferred to the Spanish tax system. Therefore, why shouldn’t we always have a right to vote in the UK elections.
We were living in Spain during the last two major elections but still never got the chance to vote. Although being registered as overseas residents with our local council in the UK, we never received the voting papers despite contacting them prior to the last election to check that we were still registered. We were told that they are not allowed to send out the postal votes until 10 days before the date of election. That in itself is a joke because it can take 10 days or more to receive UK mail and you still have to get it back to them within that time. However, to date, we have never ever received them despite receiving all other mail from the UK including the councils own annual correspondence asking us to sign to the effect that we are still overseas residents. Furthermore, when we re-contacted them, on both occasions to report non-receipt of these important postal voting papers, we were told that there is nothing they can do because their system shows that the forms were sent out!!
Surely in this day and age there must be ways to vote electronically, which would be both secure and private. In all the years we have lived in Spain, we have always received our UK post with no problem apart from these voting papers. Interestingly, having spoken with other ex pats, it seems to have been a case of hit and miss with them as well, mostly miss. What would the UK do if most of the expats returned, although I know a lot have done so already due to the crisis, and then needed housing, elderly or medical care and possibly even benefits?”