The Overseas Vote: Please encourage your British family and friends abroad this weekend to register!

An additional 2.1 million Brits abroad will be eligible to vote at the General Election on 4th July, but many still don’t know about their new rights. There’s just five days left to get the word out and have them register, as registration closes on Tuesday at 23.59hrs UK time, whether at home or abroad.

The abolition of the 15-year rule – which had previously stopped the right to vote for any Brit who has been out of the country for longer than that – means that all British citizens abroad of voting age who have ever lived in the UK have their right to vote restored since January this year for general elections and some referendums.

This has more than doubled the number of eligible British voters abroad from approximately 1.4 million to about 3.5 million, a sizeable increase!

Please take action – send your family and friends abroad an email straight away or give them a call. They should go online this weekend and register at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote if they have not done so already. They will be registered to vote at their last constituency address they lived in.

Lib Dems Abroad have also designed a website which has been especially created to help explain the process https://britsabroad.vote. If you are registering for the first time, proof will be needed of your previous residency or an attestation if that proof no longer exists. Local Councils will be verifying this.

Local Councils will only begin sending out postal ballot papers starting Wednesday 19th June, just 15 days before polling day. Votes need to reach the UK from abroad in time for the election count on 4th July. 

Because international postal services are unreliable, we are advising eligible British voters overseas to appoint a UK-based proxy. The person can even be family. The proxy does not have to live in the same constituency as the overseas voter, and can live anywhere in the UK as they can vote by post.  A proxy can vote for a maximum of 4 people of whom no more than 2 of those people can be domestic electors.

This is a historic occasion with a major extension in the democratic rights of our citizens. Let us get a good turnout which may help the Lib Dems in one or two key marginals as well!

* George Cunningham is Chair of the Lib Dems Abroad Steering Committee and an Elected Member of the Federal International Relations Committee, Twitter: @GFCunningham

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.
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2 Comments

  • David Rogers 15th Jun '24 - 7:54am

    Re “Local Councils will only begin sending out postal ballot papers starting Wednesday 19th June” – not so! West Devon BC (Torridge & Tavistock constituency) has chosen to send them out already, earlier this week. There may well be other examples.

  • The libdems abroad website is useful, just missing a key piece of information

    “ A General Election has been called for 4 July 2024. Register to vote by 11:59pm on 18 June 2024.”

    A piece of browser code would also present that date in the time zone of the overseas user’s system.

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