UK Electoral Commission aims to triple registrations by expat voters

Published:  1 Jan at 6 PM
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The European Parliament elections in the UK are due to take place on 22 May 2014, with the Electoral Commission campaign aimed at encouraging expats in Europe to vote.

Provided they are registered as overseas voters, have not been out of the UK for more than 15 years and are not registered to vote in the member state where they are domiciled, expats are entitled to vote. However, only a relatively small percentage are actually registered to do so in the UK.

According to Rosemary Davenport, speaking for the Electoral Commission, finding ways to encourage overseas residents to register to vote is a considerable challenge. Potentially, she adds, the total overseas electorate is a good deal larger than the numbers already registered.

The registration campaign is aimed at around 25,000 new registrations from potential overseas voters, a figure which would make it 75 per cent more effective than the campaign run prior to the European Parliament elections in 2009.Countries targeted are the following top ten preferred locations for expats - the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, France and Ireland.

Advertisements will be placed on commonly-visited websites such as the British media and the BBC, and will also feature as responses to Google search terms mentioning UK elections. Unfortunately, expats living in Asia, South America and many other locations may not be included, nor will those who emigrated more than 15 years ago.

The Electoral Commission states there is no action they can take over the 15 year disenfranchisement rule, but expat associations across the world are pressing for changes, insisting they have as much right to vote as more recent migrants. Many expats angry about time-based disenfranchisement still have connections to the UK, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard.
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