Brit expats in Europe rushing to register for general election proxy votes

Published:  11 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, Citizenship, Euro, England
Warnings about a lack of time to arrange postal votes for UK expats in Europe have resulted in a rush to register for proxy votes.

Following on from the chaos during the EU MP elections during which a huge number of UK expat voters lost the chance to make their preferences known, fear of the same scenario on December 12 has seen a flurry of applications for proxy votes. Back in the UK, local councils are busy sending letters urging British residents living in Europe to select the proxy vote option rather than lose their votes yet again.

After the European election ended, many overseas UK expats lodged complaints if having been disenfranchised by the predictable postal chaos, with many postal vote cards arriving days after the election had ended. Some expats who realised they were about to lose their votes had attempted to organise last-minute proxy votes but were told they could not as their postal votes had already been issued.

Before the December 12 general election date had been announced, one local council based in South London had already contacted overseas voters, advising using the proxy vote service unless they had total confidence in the Royal Mail’s overseas services. Islington Council went one step further, contacting around 1,700 expat voters who’d registered in September and is planning to write again to those who haven’t yet signed up to use a proxy vote.

Even according to a statement by Britain’s Electoral Commission following the May polls, reports outlining the challenges of ensuring UK citizens overseas could vote were sent in but no action was taken. The report suggested allowing voting at consulates or embassies, with downloading and printing postal ballots also put forward. To make matters even worse for overseas voters, Royal Mail workers are threatening strike action unless their calls for better conditions and higher pay aren’t recognised.
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