Referendum blow for expat Scots

Overseas votes will not be allowed for independence vote which raises doubts over planned in-out EU ballot

6 February 2014

SCOTS in France will not be able to vote in this year’s Scottish referendum on independence – although French people living in Scotland can, it was confirmed to Connexion today.

We asked for clarification from the Scottish Government, the Electoral Commission and local electoral registration officers on who would be eligible to vote in the Scottish referendum and found the vote will be limited to over 16-year-old British, Commonwealth and EU citizens living in Scotland, plus services personnel registered to vote in Scotland. Scottish expats are banned from voting.

This raises questions on who can vote in any future British referendum on remaining in Europe. If it is carried through into the Conservative Party’s planned in-out referendum on Europe [if they win the next general election] it will mean that British citizens resident in Europe will not be able to vote.

Scots campaigners have called for a change in legislation so that they get a chance to join in deciding their home country’s future.

The move comes as the first National Voter Registration Day revealed that up to one million people had not yet registered to vote in Scotland – but James Wallace, a Scots-born trainee lawyer in London, said there are more than a million Scots outside of Scotland who were being denied a vote on September 18.

Last year’s Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act laid down that the eligibility of voters was based on residence in Scotland, in line with the Representation of the People Act 1983. Only people entitled to vote in local government elections in Scotland would be eligible to vote in the referendum.

At the weekend a survey found that 37% of people backed the Yes campaign – up from 32% in September – while No voters fell 4% to 44%.

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