Archive for the ‘On-line Voting & IER.’ Category

On-line Voting & Individual Electoral Registration.

mercredi, novembre 2nd, 2011

There are a number of reasons why around only 30,000 expat Brits out of an estimated 5 – 6 million were registered to vote at the last general election:
1. A general distrust of the UK off-shore tax implications for expatriates of registering to vote, since they think this might also be brought to the attention of HMRC.
2. Difficulties of dealing with a rather out-dated way of registering and then voting given the more modern means of communications available today e.g. with the internet.
3. A mutual lack of interest by both the expatriate who for various reasons has left the UK behind, and political parties who give the impression of only showing interest in those able to vote at election time.
4. A rejection of politics and politicians in general, which matches a certain anti-politics mood in the UK today.
5. The 15 year limit on voting rights.

Concerning the tax implications in 1 above, it is interesting that the letter below from the Constitution Group in the Cabinet Office not only draws a distinction between paying taxes and having the right to vote but also equates British expatriates still paying UK taxes with some foreign nationals living and paying tax in the UK but not eligible to vote.

On the use of on-line voting as mentioned in 2 above, proponents in the US argue that Internet voting would offer greater speed and convenience, particularly for overseas and military voters and, in fact, any voters allowed to vote that way. If it is safe to bank or shop on-line, why not vote on-line?

The answer is that it is not inherently safe to e.g. bank or shop on-line and computer and network security experts are virtually unanimous in pointing out that online voting is an exceedingly dangerous threat to the integrity of U.S. elections.

However, if we are prepared to accept the security risk to our finances for the convenience of shopping or banking on-line, perhaps we are also prepared to accept the same level of risk for the convenience as expatriates (a relatively small percenatage of the electorate) of voting on-line?

You can read more here « If I can shop and bank on-line, why cannot I vote on-line?

Letter from Constitution Group, Cabinet Office

Thank you for your response to the Government?s consultation on Individual Electoral Registration. We have now closed the consultation and are currently reviewing all the responses that we have received. In your response to the white paper you have raised issues regarding the voting rights of British Citizens overseas. In light of your comments, it may be helpful if I set out the background to this issue.

As you may know, the Representation of the People Act 1985 provided for the first time for UK citizens living overseas to be able to register to vote in general and European Parliamentary elections in the UK. The voting rights of overseas electors did not continue indefinitely under the Representation of the People Act 1985, but for five years from the time when the UK citizen was last resident and on the electoral register in the UK. Parliament decided to impose a time limit on the eligibility of overseas electors to vote because it was thought that generally over time their connection with the UK is likely to diminish. The length of the time limit has subsequently been changed over the years, first increasing to 20 years, then being reduced to 15 years since 1 April 2002.

The UK voting franchise is not based exclusively on being a UK tax payer, so it does not necessarily follow that, because someone pays taxes in the UK, he or she has the right to vote in the UK. Some foreign nationals living and paying tax in the UK are not eligible to vote.

However, I can confirm that the Government is considering whether the 15 year time limit remains appropriate. If a change is proposed Parliament will need to consider the issue.

We will publish a formal response to the consultation in due course.


The Electoral Registration Transformation Programme

Constitution Group, the Cabinet Office

4S2 | HM Treasury | 1 Horse Guards Rd | Westminster | London | SW1A 2HQ