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How to register as a British Overseas Voter


How to register as a British Overseas Voter

Posted by: webmaster on Sunday August 02, 2009 (17:57:56)   (2214 Reads)
 Article Rating: 1
It’s scandalous that British expats who have lived abroad for more than 15 years are deprived of the right to vote – unlike those of most other advanced democracies, including the United States, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

But here’s the good news. If you’ve lived abroad for less than 15 years, you can register to vote. We want the next British government to end the 15-year ban, so let’s show them that British expats mean business. Let’s get as many people as possible registered in time for the general election – between now and next June.

You have to renew your overseas voter registration every year, by applying to the Election Registration Officer of the constituency where you were last resident in the UK. Phone the Electoral Commission on 00 44 20 7271 0500, or go to the Electoral Commission website www.aboutmyvote.co.uk. In the “Your local area” section, enter the postcode of the your most recent UK address, and your Electoral Registration Officer’s contact details will appear further down the page on the right. Now, at the bottom of the home page, click on “Overseas voters”. This is where you download and print out the Electoral Commission’s forms for voter registration, voting by post and voting by proxy.

Fill in the registration form and get another British expat (not related to you) to witness your signature. Then post the completed form back to your Election Registration Officer to arrive at least 11 working days before election day. Remember, a general election can be called with only three weeks' notice, so the sooner you register, the better.

Once you’re on the electoral register, you can vote either in person in the UK on election day, by post or by proxy (which means someone you trust votes in the UK on your behalf).

To register as a postal voter, you have to send a second form to your Election Registration Officer. Postal voting can be risky, though – ballot papers may not be sent out until a few days before election day, not giving you enough time to return them before voting closes.

Registering as a proxy voter is also a separate procedure, requiring a further form, which the Election Registration Officer must receive at least 6 working days before election day. If you don't know whom to appoint as your proxy, you can get help from the international offices in London of any of the political parties, or their local associations in France.

It may sound daunting, but expat voter registration really is worth while. Voting is a basic human right, still denied to hundreds of thousands of loyal British citizens across the world. But if we can get non-disenfranchised British expats to register in large numbers, we'll have a better chance of having the infamous 15-year rule junked once and for all.

Christopher Chantrey
Chairman, British Community Committee
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