Expat voters hit record high

More than 300,000 expats may now be registered to vote in the UK’s EU membership referendum, The Connexion has found.

Precise voter registration figures are not available from the UK’s Electoral Commission, however using publically available government data we calculate more than 258,000 expats applied online to be registered to vote this year.

That compares to 106,000 overseas voters registered to vote in the general election in May last year. Many, but probably not all, will have remained registered from last year, so it is reasonable to estimate that more than 300,000 may be able to take part in the referendum, assuming most applications were properly processed by elections offices around the UK.

The total may be roughly three times as much as for last year’s election and almost 10 times as many as expats who registered to take part in the 2010 general election.

However, it still only represents about 10% of expats worldwide who could have registered, as a cross-party group on overseas voters estimated this number in 2014 at up to three million. At least another million have been excluded from voting due to the ‘15-year rule’, which bans long-term expats from a vote.

It also remains unknown how many of those people registered will vote successfully and whether some postal votes will be lost due to problems with postage. However with polls showing the result uncertain, it is likely that every vote will count.

Expats who have registered and have arranged a method of overseas voting should return postal ballots as a matter of urgency if they have not yet done so, or, if they are using a proxy, ensure the designated person returns a postal proxy ballot, if appropriate, or is ready to go to the polling station in your old constituency with a proxy poll card on June 23.

Regarding postal voting, if you received a return envelope franked International Business Reply Service (IBRS) and marked in French ‘Réponse payée Grande-Bretagne’, La Poste says it does not need stamps but it will not matter if you did put stamps on it (this should apply to most people in France). However if it was franked for the ordinary UK Business Reply Plus, then it does need the appropriate stamps for its weight. If you chose a postal vote but the ballot has not come, you should contact the elections office in your old constituency immediately to see if a solution can be found.