Britons abroad urged to get ready to vote

a crossed ballot going into a yellow ballot box
Time is running out to vote in the UK election

BRITONS abroad – including in France – are being urged today to make sure they are registered to vote, if they are still eligible.

With just over a month to go, time is running out to register, but it can be done in just a few minutes at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote , the UK’s Electoral Commission says.

The commission is also now advising that Britons overseas apply for a proxy vote at this stage, if possible, due to the short time-frame.

This comes as the Conservative Party made large gains at British local elections yesterday – in which Britons abroad may not take part.

Spokesman Craig Westwood said: “At the 2016 EU Referendum, local authorities received 5,143 late registration applications from overseas voters.

“We don’t want anyone to lose their voice this polling day. Expats who are eligible to vote in the UK should register now, and once registered should apply to vote by proxy, which means nominating someone you trust to vote for you.

“This will give peace of mind as it means not needing to worry about ballot papers arriving and returning via the post in time to be counted at the election.”

Proxy vote forms for overseas voters can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/410345/Proxy_voting_form_living_overseas.pdf

In theory, electoral registration offices are supposed to remind Britons overseas annually of the need to renew registration so as to remain on the voter register, but this is not done systematically and unless you renewed recently you may have come off.

If you do not know someone who can vote for you in your former UK constituency on polling day (June 8), then you could try to find someone by, for example, contacting the local branch of the party you wish to vote for, who may suggest a volunteer.

You should make sure you have applied to register before applying for a proxy vote, but do not need to wait for confirmation of being registered.

Return the form to your UK electoral registration office. Contact details can be found by putting in your postcode at https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/

It may be possible to send this application as an email attachment – check what is acceptable.

Those who are not able to vote by proxy or in person should apply for a postal vote. If you have voted by post before this choice may still be recorded for you, but it is best to check.

Registration of overseas voters has been improving since the UK brought in its quick online registration. Numbers tripled to more than 100,000 at the 2015 general election and then again more than doubled for the referendum, with around 264,000 registered in Great Britain at the end of last year.

Even so, many hundreds of thousands of eligible overseas voters did not register to vote last year – and over a million others could not do so due to the ‘15-year rule’ which bans voting after 15 years abroad.

Removing this was a Conservative Party manifesto promise and a ‘votes for life’ bill was listed in the 2015 Queen’s Speech documents, however it was not put before parliament. 

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