Postal voting scandal ignites worldwide expat fury

Published:  27 Jun at 6 PM
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Following a report in the Independent newspaper last Thursday, an increasing number of British expats involved in the postal votes scandal are calling for a second referendum.

Expats living in EU member states, the USA, Australia and across the world now have the most to lose due to the Leave campaign’s success in the ballot. The majority of those affected did not receive their postal voting forms after they’d registered, with others receiving them as late as 23 June.

Full numbers affected are as yet not known, but the newspaper has been contacted by Brits living in South Africa, Iceland, Peru, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Turkey as well as France, Spain, other EU countries and Australia.One expat living in Normandy revealed that many other Brits in her area had not received the forms, adding that if the reason behind the disenfranchisement of so many voters is identified, a new referendum should take place. How many eligible voters need to come forward, she asked, before the Electoral Commission is forced to act? Another angry voter called the result of the referendum a farce.

Excuses by local electoral officials included ‘unspecified clerical errors’, ‘postal errors’ were given as reasons in countries with no previous problems with missing mail, and Australian post offices refused to handle the envelopes. Misdeliveries to wrong addresses as well as post offices with ‘no record of the package’ were all recorded by the Independent. Given that the majority of those disenfranchised were, as expats, likely to vote Remain, anger is mounting and is apparently not confined to overseas voters as reports have been received that British residents have also been affected.

Worryingly, one expat voter who complained to her Suffolk electoral office was told the French postal system was to blame, but the possibility of a conspiracy against expats voting for Remain was also mentioned. When approached by the Independent, an Electoral Commission spokesperson refused to give any explanation for the missing votes, saying the issue would be investigated as part of its statutory report. The newspaper is still requesting those who’d registered but have lost their vote due to the non- or late arrival of their voting forms to contact it with full details.

Whilst it’s highly likely that the full number of missing postal votes wouldn't have made a difference to the end result of the referendum, the scandal in itself is typical of the manner in which the UK general public and expat citizens were misled and misinformed during the run-up to the referendum.
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