Expat Brits reject EC call to vote in local and EU elections

Published:  30 Jul at 6 PM
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In spite of a massive online and media campaign to encourage UK citizens living overseas to register to vote in the EU election and local polls, the results were embarrassingly small.

The Electoral Commission’s campaign appeared on expat radio stations, online via expat forums and local English language newspapers and in various political parties’ overseas networks. The goal was to have 25,000 new registrations in time for the EU election, but the result was a sorry 7,079 votes.

An increased number of registration forms were downloaded, but far fewer were returned, with discussion forums in overseas expat hubs claiming that voting online would have been a more suitable way to make their preferences known. Registration by post, as well as downloading and printing the forms and the counter-signature requirements, was considered simply too onerous and many noted that there was no guarantee that mail would actually be received.

Even after 10 June, when the requirements were changed to allow online registration, the message didn’t get through to most expat destinations. By next year’s UK General Election, the change to online registration will, according to the EC, be more widely known and the campaign is expected to produce better results.

A number of long-term expats are fighting the 15-year limit on voting rights via Conservatives Abroad and other expat organisations. Most EU states allow expat voting as a lifetime right, and the British ban, frozen pensions and the possibility of UK state pensioners losing their tax-free allowance are all being cited by expats living overseas as reasons to ignore the call to vote.
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