Tuesday 13th October 2009

A recent electoral commission report revealed that of the 5.5 million Britons currently living abroad, just 13,000 have registered on the electoral register.

In order to be eligible for the electoral register Britons are required to have been registered to vote within the UK within the last fifteen years. Those who were under the age of the voting age, 18, when they left Britain to live abroad are also eligible providing their register at the last place their parent or guardian was registered.

Of the 5.5 million overseas nationals, 2.5 million are believed to be eligible to join the register yet despite this, the lack of registration activity indicates that Briton’s abroad are showing very little interest in the electoral process.

The Conservatives Abroad organization have created their own website; www.dontleaveyourvoteathome.com, which aims to educate UK expats on the need to cast their vote in the next election. Earlier on in the year, Conservative Party Chairman Eric Pickles highlighted the importance of the vote of overseas nationals by engaging in an active programme of canvassing in order to ensure that eligible Britons abroad don't lose their right to vote in UK elections. Discussing Pickles’ plans on the conservative blog site, Philip Dunne, deputy chairman of the Conservative party with responsibility for Conservatives Abroad commented:

“There are something like two and a half million British citizens overseas who are eligible to vote in British elections, but only about 14,000 are registered to do so.

“The number of expats currently registered is pitiful, so we are working hard to try to raise awareness about the ability to vote. We have encouraged all our MPs, candidates, councillors and associations, if they are on holiday abroad and meet expats, to encourage them to vote.

“I think few local authorities inform people when they leave Britain that they retain the right to vote. Embassies and consulates should have a role in encouraging voter registration and I would like our expats to be able to vote at their overseas mission.”

Read the full article: http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

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