With the 2015 General Election in mind, the political parties are already trying to reach out to the 2.5-million Britons (out of the total of 5 – 6 million) living overseas, who they estimate are still eligible to vote in British elections, including:
- Citizens who have been on a UK electoral register within the last 15 years
- Citizens who were under the age of 18 years when they left the UK, provided they didn’t leave the country more than 15 years ago.
If you belong to either of these groups, make sure you can and do register to vote eg via the Electoral Commission website www.aboutmyvote.co.uk .
In practice it’s not always that easy to register from overseas as Robert Alderson commented on our sign-up poll yesterday:
” In 2005 I moved from East Grinstead to the United States. I maintained my electoral registration with Mid Sussex council and last voted in the 2010 General Election by post. It recently emerged that I had been removed from the electoral register. My wife received an annual review letter and I did not get a letter. I asked Mid Sussex what was going on and they told me that they had no record of my being on the register. They later conceded that I was registered until 2009/10 but did not explain why I had been removed. I completed new forms to re-register and submitted them on September 4th. Mid Sussex has not confirmed that I am now back on the register and has not explained why I was deprived of my right to vote without being notified. I take this issue very seriously and am determined to get to the bottom of it. I am sure that you would agree that it is simply not acceptable to arbitrarily deprive somebody of the franchise in this way without making any effort to check facts or inform the voter concerned. Any advice or assistance you can give in this matter would be greatly appreciated.”
Such a difficulty in simply registering is another reason why at the end of 2007, just 14,000 expatriates were registered to vote and, since being granted the right to vote in the mid 1980s, a maximum of only 30,000 registered overseas voters have ever been counted on the electoral roll. This adds to the perception of a lack of expatriate interest in voting, making it even more difficult to convince Westminster politicians of the benefits of also extending the right to vote to those expat British citizens currently excluded by the 15-year-rule.
Last year 198,000 Britons left the UK to live overseas, all of whom are still eligible to vote in the next European (in 2014) and Parliamentary Elections (in 2015).
If you are one of these 198,000 Britons, make sure that you can still exercise your democratic right to vote in these elections by registering via www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.
Even if you are not one of these 198,000 British citizens but find that you can’t register due to the 15-year-rule, you could still choose to support our campaign to remove the 15-year-rule by adding your vote here in our on-line poll. It would be much appreciated.