Many British expats currently living in the European Union will be wondering how they can register to vote and make their vote count on December 12th. MPs backed an early general election last week in the latest attempt to break the Brexit deadlock. Here’s our quick guide:
1. Make sure you register to vote
It is imperative that you make sure you are on the electoral roll. Overseas voters need to re-register on the electoral roll every year so make sure you deal with this early on. Don’t wait until the last minute to check whether you are registered to vote – you probably aren’t!
You can check with your local electoral registration office and ask them whether you are registered, and normally you can register to vote up until 12 days before the election; at which point the register closes.
You will be registered in the constituency where you last voted or where you were last registered.
The UK government website says that if you want to vote in England, Scotland or Wales, you can register to vote on the website but if you want to vote in Northern Ireland, you need to register by post.
Use this link to find your local registration office (where you were last registered).
And, to register to vote you can go here.
2. You need to make sure you have the required documents
You will need to provide your National Insurance number, your last registered UK address, a passport number and you will have to specify when you left the UK. The latter is an important piece of information now due to the existence of the 15-year rule around being able to vote.
The government has however recently pledged to end the 15-year limit and give Brits living overseas voting rights for life.
The electoral commission may also ask you to provide an Attestation signed by a fellow overseas voter. An attestation will be required if the electoral commission has insufficient information about you on file.
3. Choose your voting method
When you are an overseas voter you can opt to vote by proxy or postal vote. If you happen to be (or plan to be) in the UK on the day of the election you can also go and vote in person. Simply make your selection when you register to vote.
Proxy votes must be made in your last registered constituency. This means that the person you choose to be your proxy must cast your ballot at the correct polling station. You should consider the practicalities of this. If a proxy voter cannot make it to the polling station, they can also apply in advance to send in the ballot by post on your behalf.
You can apply to vote by proxy using this form.
Exactly as it suggests, this allows you to submit your vote in advance by mail. You must consider the availability and reliability of mail services where you live. You also need to allow enough time for your vote to arrive by the deadline. In the past a postal vote has normally been the method that most overseas voters will rely upon. However, the ‘British in Europe’ coalition group is recommending a vote by proxy rather than post.
To apply for a postal vote then you can print this form and send it to your electoral registration office. You must return your vote to the local authority or polling station by 10pm on polling day.
Vote In Person
If you plan to be in the UK on the day of the vote then you may vote in person. Casting your vote in this case is just the same as when you were resident.