Majority of EU States Allow Overseas Voting in Embassies (but not the UK).

The historical lack of attention paid by the United Kingdom (UK) to encouraging registration of its overseas voters, is demonstrated by the prevailing 15-year-limit on their voting rights and is also evident when comparing e.g. national rules governing voting from abroad for the citizens of the 28 member states of the European Union (EU).

Of these 28 EU member states, 17 (61%) allow their citizens to vote from abroad in their local embassies, whilst the UK (together with Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia) remains part of the minority which doesn’t.

This particular lack of overseas voter support in British Embassies/Consulates, was not mentioned when the Electoral Commission reported to the  Parliamentary Parties Panel (PPP) on 20 November, 2013  the results of a consultation   into boosting the registration of overseas electors, and to which Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP raised the following Oral  Parliamentary Question:

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The  Cotswolds):

“What progress has been made by the  Electoral Commission on setting a target for increasing the number of eligible  overseas voters registering before the next general election?”

Mr  Gary Streeter (South West Devon):

“Since May 2013, the  Electoral Commission has met representatives from political parties and  officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss how they can work  together to reach eligible electors overseas to encourage them to register to  vote. That has helped to inform the development of the Commission’s extensive  public awareness campaign for overseas voters in 2014 ahead of the European  parliamentary elections. Finally, the Commission has set a target for its  overseas public awareness campaign for the 2014 parliamentary elections to be  more than three times as effective as the campaign it ran in 2009.”

Geoffrey  Clifton-Brown:

“Is my hon. Friend aware that there are  estimated to be 3 million Britons living abroad who could potentially vote yet  at the 2010 election only 20,000 were registered to vote? Does he not think that that is a shocking statistic and will he encourage the  Electoral Commission to set a target to increase that figure to 100,000 by the  2015 election?”

Mr  Streeter:

I certainly agree that it is a shocking  figure. Many people are working very hard to try to increase the numbers of  British people who are registered to vote. There is a target to increase the  number of overseas voters who download the registration form for the 2014  European election to three times the number there were in 2009. If we were to  increase the 2010 figure threefold, that would take us to about 100,000 downloads in 2015, which would perhaps be much more beneficial.”

The Electoral Commission website is already available to guide eligible British citizens in registering to vote from abroad.

If you find that you cannot register to vote because you are excluded by the 15-year-rule, we would much appreciate you also taking the time to add your vote here in support of our campaign to remove this rather arbitrary and undemocratic limit on our voting rights as British citizens living abroad.

This entry was posted in +5 million British Expats Abroad, Anomaly of Voteless Expat Brits in EU, British Expat Spectators, Electoral Commission, Expat Democracy: France vs UK, Expat Voter Registration, French Inspire 1 million Overseas Voters, No Overseas Voting in Embassies, Voting Rights and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Majority of EU States Allow Overseas Voting in Embassies (but not the UK).


    Can we find out whether or not there is a move to let expats (like me, who has been away 30 years) vote in the Exit UK from the EU, if that happens? If there is, I’d like to hear more, please, as I am very concerned about this. Present and past British governments may speciously claim that Brits living abroad have no interest in what goes on in Britain – which of course is not true for most of us – but it would be quite impossible for them to claim with any justification that a vote to leave the EU will not affect all of us. What is going to happen to us if we leave? We will be relegated to the status of non-EU members and that will make a HUGE difference to our status in the country we are living in. Back to long queues at immigration to get residence papers etc etc.

    Please keep me and others informed. I fully intend to campaign for a vote in this Election if it happens, and would like to join up with like-minded people-

    • right2vote4xpatbrits says:

      Thank you for your comment, Diana.
      We are all like-minded people in campaigning via this website to repeal the 15-year-rule. This currently effectively bars those of us longer-term expats, myself included, from voting in any referendum on continuing UK membership of the European Union, even though it is clear that we would be impacted by a British exit. You can be kept informed by tracking future developments on this issue via this website and blog page.

  2. Michael Cushing says:

    A lot of hot air and no action regards democratic rights . All citizens have the RIGHT TO REPRESENTATION ( UN , ECHR protocol ) No representation = loss of identity . The 15 year rule is not even in LAW in the REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLES ACT ( all UK jurisdictions) 1985 / 1989 .( which gave the right to overseas voting ) The mention in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 page 140 ” change 20 years to 15 years ” THATS IT . Why was it not in ROAD TRAFFIC ACTS as an example . The Representation of the Peoples Acts IS THE LAWFULL INSTRUMENT FOR THE RIGHT TO REGISTER not some other ill defined ACT I believe there is a move to possibly allow anyone who has registered to vote and continues to apply for registration to be granted the right to vote in the Exit UK from EU referendum promised . Great IF YOU WAS INFORMED BEFORE INTERNET of overseas voting rights . I have been REFUSED when I applied Under the 20 year rule !!! Funny how voting rules will be different for Scotland Referedndum 2014 to that of the Exit EU Referendum 2016 /17 . ( both controled by the INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION a crown office ??!!) Suggestion ; the next irrelevent ACT. passing through Westminster should have Miscilaneous Ammendments page …… Change “15 years to life ” and append change ” 20 years to life ” just to clarify which change your refering to .- For convicts and the judicary insert ” ammendment not relevent ” .

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