We welcome the UK government’s move to scrap the 15-year limit for British expats voting in UK parliamentary elections.
However, we think the proposals should tackle separating proof of one’s eligibility to vote from where one is registered to vote.
The current requirement, continued under the new proposals, is that “British citizens who have previously lived in the UK and who have moved abroad... can apply to register as an overseas elector in the constituency in which they were last entered in a register of parliamentary electors”.
We lived in the last UK constituency where were registered for only seven months before moving to France. We have no further interest in the representation of this constituency in government and we have no-one there that we can ask to proxy vote for us. So we need to arrange postal votes.
But as we all know, the post can take several days to reach us and several days to get back to the UK. If postal ballot papers are sent out late, their journey out and back can result in them arriving after the voting date.
We’ve opted for a family member who lives in England to have a proxy vote for us. However, they don’t live in the constituency where we were last registered.
This means that we have to arrange a proxy voter for us, and a postal vote for the proxy.
We’ve suggested to the Cabinet Office that the eligibility to vote (by proof of previous registration to vote at a particular address) be separated from the assignment of the constituency in which one is registered to vote.
This would give us overseas voters the freedom to register to vote in whichever constituency we favour.
That is, of course, until the UK follows France’s example and has elected MPs who are voted by, and represent, their expats around the world.
Nick and Jill Cook, Pyrénées-Orientales