The final practical steps to allow Britons living overseas in France and other countries to re-register to vote in UK elections are underway, meaning they should be able to do so, on target, by the end of January.
In theory, millions of additional Britons will be eligible to register thanks to legal changes, which include the right for all adult Britons to vote if they have lived at some point in the UK. However it is thought unlikely all will do so, based on previous registration figures.
The end of the ‘15-year rule’ which struck Britons off electoral registers after 15 years living outside the UK, has been promised by successive Conservative governments since the 2015 election manifesto.
It was finally put into law in the Elections Act 2022, but secondary regulations were awaited to finalise the practical rules under which disenfranchised voters could re-register.
The regulations were laid before parliament at the start of this week.
Campaign group British in Europe, which had renewed funding this year to work on the overseas voters issue, says it can take up to two months for these regulations to be scrutinised by both houses of parliament, potentially taking us up to late December 2023.
However, they are then expected to be finalised and to come into force almost immediately, meaning it should become possible to re-register in the course of January 2024 which is in line with previously stated targets.
It is hoped this will give enough time for people to re-register before the next general election, which could be called at any time between now and January 28, 2025. May 2, 2024 is being predicted as the earliest likely date.