British expatriates across Europe are being urged to register so that they can vote in the forthcoming European Parliamentary elections. The Electoral Commission designated today “Overseas Registration Day” and has started a promotional campaign to get more of the estimated 5.5 million British expats to register with only 20,000 thought to have done so. They have hoped to receive 25,000 overseas voter registration form downloads from their website today.
Samantha Mills, head of campaigns at the Electoral Commission stated “Many of those living overseas do not even know that they may be eligible to vote in some UK elections, so it’s important that our campaign is as far-reaching as possible.” The European Parliamentary elections take place on the 22nd May (and the next UK general election being on the 7th May 2015) and the completed registration form must have been returned by the 6th May in order to be eligible to vote.
Ms Mills continued further “It is also important for expatriates to think about how they are going to cast their vote. Ballot papers can be sent overseas but people must think about whether they have time to receive and return these papers by polling day. Those who think they might not have time may want to consider voting by proxy. This involves nominating a person they trust in the UK to vote on their behalf.”
Currently every British citizen who had registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years is still eligible to vote in UK general elections and European Parliamentary elections as well as most referendums whilst living abroad. There have been numerous campaigns in recent years to have this limit raised with the European Commission also weighing-in on the matter stating that Britain is ‘punishing’ its expats and that the law should be changed.