UK expats urged to make a difference by registering to vote

Published:  22 Jan at 6 PM
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The UK’s Electoral Commission has begun a global campaign encouraging expats to register to vote, saying that their votes could make a real difference.

Given the number of expats who left the UK due to their disenchantment with present-day politics, it’s surprising that only a small minority of those eligible are at present willing to vote or even to register. UK citizens who have lived overseas for up to 15 years have the right to cast their votes.

The EC is lobbying the government to delete the 15 year rule, and states in its campaign that as little as 90 votes could swing the result in 49 of the most marginal constituencies. The next General Election falls in May 2015, and it’s traditionally the marginals that determine a change in government.

Around 5 million Brits live permanently abroad, spread over 100 or so countries, but only 30,000 are registered to vote in their former constituencies. According to the EEC, 100,000 are needed for the government to finally support their cause.

Campaigner group Votes for Expat Brits as well as the International Consortium of British Pensioners are up in arms about the 15-year rule, describing it correctly as disenfranchisement of British nationals. Their case and the EC’s will be stronger if there’s a huge increase in the number of overseas Brits registering online to vote in the General Election.
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