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British expats: Don’t lose your vote in the European Parliament elections
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The UK Electoral Commission has been running an international campaign to encourage British citizens living overseas to register to vote.
The European Parliament elections is just a few weeks away, but whilst millions of British expatriates are eligible to vote, many of them will be unable to have their say unless they take action now.
It’s simple: if you’re a British citizen living here in Egypt and have been registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years, you are eligible to vote in the European Parliamentary elections. But if you are not on the electoral register back in the UK, you won’t be able to. If that’s you, why not take five minutes now to print off a registration form at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk?
It’s really important to allow plenty of time to return your form. Although changes are coming, for the election in May 2014, the only way for expats to register is by posting the form to the local authority where they were last registered to vote in the UK. This must be returned by Tuesday 6 May if you want to want to cast a vote in the elections.
The latest research shows that, whilst 5.5 million UK citizens may be living abroad, fewer than 20,000 overseas voters were on the UK electoral registers at the end of 2012. Whilst many may have made the decision not to vote, others may not be aware that they can still do so once they have left the UK.
Research by the UK Electoral Commission has also shown that 44% of those not registered to vote mistakenly believe that they are – so it’s really important to double check. You can do this by calling or emailing the electoral registration officer at your last local authority in the UK. If you’re not sure who this is, you can use the postcode search on www.aboutmyvote.co.uk to find their details.
How to vote
When you have registered to vote you’ll need to consider exactly how you will cast your vote. There are two ways that British expatriates can do this: by post and by proxy (where you nominate a person you trust in the UK to vote on your behalf).
At the earliest, postal ballot papers are only sent out just over two weeks before the election, so it’s important to think about whether this will allow you enough time for you to return it to the UK. Appointing a proxy is often the best way that expatriates can ensure that their vote is cast on time.
The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 7 May 2014, and the deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 14 May 2014. Application forms are available from www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.
If you’re confident that you’re already on the register, why not use this chance to join the campaign and spread the message amongst your friends and family?
Here’s what you can do:
- Place a short article on your website
Tweet a link or telling your friends and family that printable overseas registration forms are available from www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.
- Use our campaign web button or email signature on your website and email. These are available to download here under the Promoting voting registration section
Remember: the deadline to register to vote is Tuesday 6 May. It’s your vote, don’t lose it.