Opt for proxy vote to avoid postal delays

With a UK general election in six weeks’ time on December 12 campaigners are urging Britons in France to apply for a proxy vote rather than trust the post.

In previous British elections and the Brexit referendum some Connexion readers were left disappointed after postal ballots failed to arrive in time for them to take part – and this time it is feared that the Christmas post and threats of postal worker strikes will make things even more chaotic.

The British in Europe coalition of rights campaign groups is therefore advising using an ‘in person’ proxy if possible.

This means agreeing with a trusted person that they will vote for you at the polling station in your former UK constituency. You then request that they be your proxy by sending in a form to your former local electoral registration office (usually at the local council offices), including the person's full name and UK address.

Anyone can be a proxy for a British voter if they are themselves a registered British voter and eligible to vote in the election. Someone can only be a proxy for up to two people, or more if they are close family members.

If you have no one in the UK able to vote in your old constituency there is the option of a ‘postal proxy’ vote whereby a postal vote ballot for you is sent to your proxy in the UK who then posts it back in the national UK post. This requires you to first appoint a proxy and then for this person to request a postal ballot for you from the electoral registration office of your former council.

This might save some time compared to a postal vote from France but would be less reliable than an ‘in person’ proxy vote.

Another option is to ask for help in finding a proxy from the local office of the party you wish to vote for or to use social media to find a local activist. For example Facebook user Jane Shulver from Bergerac is asking people in the UK who can act as a proxy to 'Remain' oriented voters to contact her so she can match them up with Britons having difficulty finding one.

Remember that voting in UK elections requires both that you be registered as an overseas voter – and that you have not lost your vote due to the UK’s 15-year limit for overseas voting – and that you have requested a postal or proxy vote, unless you will be in the UK to vote in person.

Registration can be done at gov.uk/register-to-vote and most councils accept proxy or postal vote request forms via email. Contact details for local electoral services can be found at gov.uk/get-on-electoral-register.

If you think you are already registered it is best to double check with the electoral office at your former UK council, by phone or  – which many reportedly prefer –  email. Overseas voter registration must be renewed annually or else it may lapse.

The final deadline for registering to vote is November 26 and for new postal vote or postal proxy applications the deadline is 17.00 UK time on the same day for applications to be received by councils.

The deadline for the option for an in-person proxy is December 4 at 17.00 UK time.

To ensure your choices are processed in time it is not recommended to leave it as late as these dates.

There is more information on voting at the website of the Electoral Commission at the website Britons Voting Abroad and on this website created by the British in Germany group: registertovote.britishineurope.org/

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