Archive for the ‘Expat Voter Registration.’ Category

EU Referendum Bill: Lord Lexden Supports Amendment to include all UK Citizens in other EU Member States

mardi, novembre 3rd, 2015

This is the speech made by Alistair Lexden in the Lord?s yesterday (2nd November, 2015) afternoon in support of an amendment to the European Referendum Bill seeking to give the right to vote in the referendum to all UK citizens living in other EU member states.

Lord Lexden (Con): My Lords, the noble Lords who have tabled these amendments have performed a most valuable service which has wider international dimensions, as my noble friend Lord Flight and others have pointed out. I have strongly and consistently supported the removal of the arbitrary 15-year limit on the right of our fellow countrymen and women living overseas to vote in our parliamentary elections?a right first conferred by Margaret Thatcher?s Government. I urged its removal in my first speech in this Chamber in early 2011. I tabled amendments to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill in 2013 in order to press the case for change. I took part in subsequent discussions on overseas voting arrangements in a cross-party group chaired by my noble friend Lord Norton of Louth?a group in which my noble friend Lord Tyler played a conspicuous part.

I was delighted when my party included an unambiguous commitment in its recent general election manifesto to sweep away the iniquitous 15-year bar. Swift implementation of that commitment would have dealt with all the aspects of this issue, both as regards the parliamentary franchise and, as a direct consequence, the forthcoming EU referendum. However, the Bill to give effect to the unambiguous Tory commitment has not even been published. I was greatly taken aback to be told, in answer to an Oral Question in July, that there was no certainty whatever that the Bill would reach the statute book before the referendum took place?and it has become even less certain since then. This is deeply disappointing. Nothing could have been more precisely predictable than the emergence of the huge problem with which we are now confronted if swift and early action was not taken.

It is extremely unfortunate, to put it mildly, that work was not set in hand at the earliest opportunity. The Tory pledge was made in September last year. A branch of the Conservative Party?s organisation with which I am closely connected, Conservatives Abroad, has two outstanding experts on all the issues involved in extending the right to vote to all British citizens living overseas. They could have helped prepare the way for the Bill, which, if it were now before Parliament, would have prevented the wholly foreseeable problem that the amendments seek to address; unresolved, it will inflict great injustice on a significant number of our fellow countrymen and countrywomen overseas.

It simply cannot be right to hold a referendum in which some British citizens living in another EU member state or elsewhere in the world are able to take part, while others are excluded because they happen to have been absent from our shores for more than 15 years. The outcome within the EU will affect them all equally and profoundly. It will surely be incomprehensible to our fellow citizens living abroad that an election manifesto commitment cannot be implemented by one means or another in time for them to participate in a vote of such overwhelming importance for the nation to which they belong.

We need to imagine ourselves in the shoes of Harry Shindler, to whom the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, paid tribute, and our other fellow countrymen and countrywomen who have been living overseas for over 15 years and have retained a strong sense of British identity. How would we feel about being excluded from this momentous referendum while those who have not reached the 15-year limit can take part? The Bill should be returned to the other place and amended in order to include British citizens who have been living overseas for more than 15 years. In that way, we would uphold the principle enshrined in the Conservative election manifesto.

UK drive to recruit 100,000 expat voters – The Telegraph

samedi, février 28th, 2015

The Electoral Commission has set itself a tough pre-election target, but disillusioned expats are unlikely to bite, according to campaigners in this Telegraph article of 3 February, 2015.

Shouldn’t campaigners feel more confident given the support by the Conservative party headed by the Prime Minister below?

« Mr Cameron sent a mass email to expats on the party mailing list, telling them they could hold the key to the Conservatives winning the next election. The party has pledged to restore voting rights to all Britons overseas if it wins. Currently expats lose their right to vote once they have been out of the country for 15 years. »

British Citizen Living Abroad? Here’s a voting message from the Prime Minister.

mercredi, décembre 24th, 2014

Here’s a message from Prime Minister David Cameron:

Who do you know who lives abroad?

Of the 5 million British people living abroad, virtually none are registered to vote – even though it now only takes a few minutes to do so. Encourage your friends to register – « share » this post or send them this link:

How to Register to Vote in UK Elections

vendredi, janvier 10th, 2014

As we continue our struggle for unrestricted voting rights for all British expats, it is very important to get all those who are not affected by the arbitrary cut-off rule (currently 15 years), to register. If you have not lived outside the UK for 15 years or more we would urge you, and any of your colleagues and friends who are similarly qualified, to register!

Since British expats living in EU Member States may choose to vote in the European Parliament elections in the UK, instead of in their country of residence, it is worth registering as soon as possible, and at any rate before the European Parliament election registration deadline of 7th May 2014.

This is what you should do. You will need the postcode of your last address in the UK, and your current passport number and its place and date of issue.

Go to the Electoral Commission website and enter the postcode of your last address in the UK at which you were previously registered to vote. Click on GO in the green bar.

The next screen enables you to download the form, and tells you where to send it once you have printed it out, and completed and signed it.

If this is the first time that you have registered as an overseas (as opposed to UK-based) voter, you will need another British citizen to countersign the form as witness. The countersignatory must also provide his/her passport number and place and date of issue.

The form also enables you to register for a postal vote, or a proxy vote. We can provide help in both those areas, and with any queries connected with the registration process in general.

We hope this has been useful to you, and that you will take the important step of registering as soon as possible! Do feel free to forward this web page link to others who might be able to take advantage of it.

Expat Voter Registration

jeudi, décembre 8th, 2011

British political parties in general find it difficult to communicate with the large and widespread British expatriate population and, therefore, to release the full potential of this overseas voter base. That the currently registered number of such overseas voters is estimated at less than 1% of the total is, however, then taken by some as an indication of general apathy, rather than looking further into why this might be so. One such reason of course is that some 50% of this overseas voter base is already excluded by the 15 year rule, which deprives longer term expatriates of the right to vote in the UK. It is argued below that there are further problems of identification, registration and voting with the other 50%, which tend to further reduce the number of overseas voters.
Our political parties are set up to work through their local branches in defined domestic constituencies and, for canvassing purposes, have access to the Electoral Roll of the Electoral Commission, with which by law householders must register details of all those of voting age living within a household. The law is currently being amended to provide for Individual Electoral Registration although whether individuals will still be required by law to register is still not clear.
In contrast, the parties rely on a few politically active volunteers in their international branches to address the overseas voter base and e.g. to recruit members, raise party funds and encourage other British expatriates to register to vote. However, the relatively limited resources of these international branches are further diluted by problems of distance, density and distribution when trying to reach out to and identify their local British expatriate base, not helped by the general lack of consular records of British residents. The broadest communications means of registering overseas voters is then via the website operated by the Electoral Commission, which needs to be communicated much more effectively to British expatriates.
The electoral registration form for overseas voters which can be downloaded from , states that if you are a British citizen living abroad, as long as you were registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years, you are then eligible to vote in elections for the UK Parliament and the European Parliament but not in UK local or mayoral elections, or to the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly of Wales or the London Assembly. It is not surprising then that the number of British overseas voters registered increased from 13,600 to over 30,000 before the last election in 2010 not least due the higher level interest in national elections, together with the increase in media attention and canvassing activities. However, this still remains a disappointedly low number as far as the politicians in London are concerned.
That said, at first sight it seems quite easy to register by downloading an electoral registration form (for a British citizen living overseas) from . You read that you should register to vote as soon as you can, or it may be too late to vote in the next election. However, with the next General Election not until 2015, the natural impulse is to put off registering until closer to the date. If you do decide to register, you are informed that you can vote in one of three ways:
? By post, which is generally ruled out in most cases by the ballot paper not being sent out until 4 working days before election day, and having to be returned completed before voting closes on election day in order to count.
? By proxy, when you ask someone you know and trust to vote on your behalf (although this can still be open to abuse).
? In person, if you are in the UK on election day but you can only vote at the polling station where you are registered to vote in the UK. Also, you cannot vote at your local embassy or consulate (despite this being a common practice for expatriates of some other nations such as France).
The most practical option from the above appears to be by proxy but the overall impression is of a system which does not make it convenient for expatriates to register and/or vote, not least given their special circumstances, the presence of local embassies and/or consulates and the advanced telecommunications means available today.
Indeed, due to advances in travel and telecommunications it is now so much easier for international operations to be run via daily telephone calls, e-mail and video conferencing. As a result, around 750,000 British workers including young talented professionals are currently being posted abroad, while still being supervised and coached by their managers in the UK. The increasing use of such temporary global workers whose average time spent overseas is 5.4 years, is blurring the traditional definition of an expat according to Dave Isley, Head of NatWest International Personal Banking. In theory, these global workers should also register as overseas voters but this is unlikely, given the inconvenience and average length of their assignments, and they are more likely to remain on the domestic Electoral Register, again contributing to a rather false sense of general apathy amongst overseas voters, due only to their low registration rate.