15-Year Rule Excludes Thousands Of Expat Voters From Election 2019


Expats are out in the cold again over voting in the forthcoming General Election 2019.

The 15 year rule still applies to expats wanting to have a say in the poll, despite the ongoing promises from the Conservatives to scrap the rule and give every British expat the same voting rights.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn even floated offering a vote to European Union nationals in the UK and lowering the voting age to 16 years old in a bid to gain more support.

But he failed to urge the government to live up to manifesto pledges made by former Prime Minster David Cameron in elections dating back to 2010.

Currently the rules allow expats registered in the constituency where they last lived to vote in the December 12 poll, providing they have spent less than 15 years as a British expat.


Broken promise

Anyone who has spent longer abroad is barred from voting.

After publishing the promise, the Tories backed the Overseas Electors Bill in 2017, but this bit the dust when Parliament was prorogued earlier this year.

Out of the estimated 3 million British expats living around the world, the 15 year stops 2.4 million from voting, according to research by the Houses of Parliament library.

More than 264,000 expats were registered to vote in 2016, falling to 125,000 in 2018.

Expats wanting to take part in General Election 2019 must renew their registration each year. The deadline has yet to be published.

Voting in Election 2019 as an expat

Voters can register online and will need some personal information to complete the form, including:

  • Full name and age
  • Last UK address
  • Date of leaving UK to live overseas
  • National Insurance number

Campaigners British In Europe are urging expats to nominate a proxy voter rather than rely on postal votes.

Proxy vote appointments can be accepted up to 5 pm six days before an election.

A postal proxy must be registered by 5 pm 11 days before a postal vote, but last time, many postal vote applications failed to reach expats in time to be returned as a valid vote.

Councils blame tight deadlines for not posting out voting packs until 10 or 12 days before an election, which gives expats little or no time to respond.

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