Some 16 million British citizens, or around 35% of those eligible to vote in the 2010 general election, did not do so according to this article in The Economist of 7th December 2013 “Stay-at-home voters: The reluctant kingmakers“.
This 35% is not so different from the very rough estimate (official statistics do not exist) of the 2 – 3 million ( 40 % – 50%) of eligible British expatriates who did not vote in 2010, out of the approximately 5 – 6 million worldwide, those not eligible disenfranchised after 15 years abroad.
In what The Economist article suggests as a general rejection of politics, it is difficult to believe that the British expatriates who did not register and vote in the 2010 general election, share the same levels of disillusionment, indifference, disaffection, distrust or general cynicism attributed to those non-voters resident in the UK.
The historical level of only 20,000 to 30,000 overseas voters (1% of those estimated as eligible) registered, represents those more politically aware and, therefore, motivated and proactive in overcoming the bureaucratic barriers to registering and voting from abroad, barriers not faced by the 16 million non-voters resident in the UK. Other British expatriates, eligible but not tracked by the political parties or electoral registration officers via databases where available, have naturally fallen off the electoral roll adding to the uncertainty surrounding the number of eligible voters living abroad.
The quoted plans of the major parties “to campaign noisily and visibly on local issues” to overcome the perceived cynicism of the 16 million resident non-voters, obviously cannot be applied in practice to the British expatriate disapora. The latter is also more concerned by issues at the national level such as the major, demotivational impact of being disenfranchised after 15 years abroad , as well as the impact of an In/Out Referendum in 2017 on continuing UK membership of the European Union (EU), on those British citizens currently exercising their right to freedom of movement within the EU member states.
Those British expatriates still eligible but not registered to vote and e.g. concerned by the impact of this In/Out Referendum can, if not already on the electoral roll, make use of the Electoral Commission website www.aboutmyvote.co.uk to find out more about registering to vote.