Archive for the ‘Individual Elector Reg.’ Category

Chasing the Wrong Target – by Michael Webster

mardi, août 20th, 2013

Considerable efforts have been devoted in recent years to obtain the right to vote for those who have been expatriates for more than 15 years, although most of these may be thought to have lost their links with any constituency back home and the ability to choose between the candidates for election there.

A far more important problem is this. There are estimated to be about 5 – 6 million British citizens living abroad, of whom 1.5 million or 30% are not eligible to vote. Let us suppose that half a million are underage, leaving 1 million deprived by the 15-year-ruling.

According to a recent Parliamentary Commission, of the 3.5 million entitled to vote only 20,000, yes 20,000 , are registered to vote. Surely this is the real problem. How to get those who have already the right to do so to exercise that right rather than seek it for those who have been expatriates for countless years.

Michael Webster

Individual Electoral Registration (IER)

mardi, octobre 11th, 2011

The draft legislation of the Electoral Registration Transformation Programme for individual electors, includes international comparisons of electoral registration levels (91% for England & Wales) which are not necessarily comparing like with like, particularly in the case of France. Since (unlike the UK) France extends the right to vote to all its expatriates of voting age, presumably the French (90% – 91%) electoral registration levels must also include what are otherwise defined as overseas electors in the draft British government legislation.
However, in the case of overseas electors for the UK ( or England and Wales since Scotland is excluded from the comparison) it is estimated that there are around 5.5 million British expatriates of which at the last count (December, 2010) only 30,809 were registered to vote. Assuming that 50 % of this overseas elector base is not excluded by the 15 year cut-off rule, this still remains rather a significant proportion of potential voters missing from the comparison and implying that the England & Wales registration level is not as good as presented.
Such a large number of British expatriates missing from the electoral register can be attributed to a number of reasons including of course general apathy or less of an attachment to the old country, but there is also the need to update and facilitate the currently difficult and time consuming process of registration/voting, to better reflect the availability of more modern communication aids such as the on-line means mentioned in the draft legislation. In their favour, expatriates usually have the benefit of a valid British passport to aid with accredited ID assurance compared with the absence of similar ID cards for the UK population at large but which exist for all French nationals. However, again many expatriates complain about not being able to register or vote because of the rather arbitrary 15 year cut-off rule whilst still paying UK taxes, which rather contradicts those who say expatriates should not have a vote because they do not pay UK taxes! Indeed, on the tax question, there is also a perhaps rather irrational concern expressed by some expatriates that they do not want to register because HMRC would be able to then better track and investigate their personal tax affairs.
Removing any tax link to the right to vote (as in the case of the controversial Poll Tax of Mrs Thatcher) or indeed any time limit such as the 15 year rule, would then recognise this as a fundamental human right of any British national of voting age. It would also satisfy those ex-servicemen/women now expatriate and without a vote after 15 years non-resident, some of whom believe that the government is thereby even breaking the military covenant between the country and those who have put their lives at risk on its behalf.