Can British citizens living abroad vote?

“No matter how far from the UK you go, your right to vote goes with you” This is the message from the Electoral Commission in a new campaign designed to encourage British citizens living abroad to register to vote in UK elections. The campaign was launched in September, the United Nations international day of democracy.

Approximately 200,000 British expatriates live in France but very few are registered to vote in the UK, according to Head of Campaigns and Public Information at the Electoral Commission, Clinton Proud:

“There are fewer than 13,500 British expatriates on the electoral register, a tiny fraction of the estimated six million Britons living abroad.

“Many British expats simply don’t realise that they are still eligible to vote in UK elections once they have moved abroad. But even if you are living abroad, as long as you have been registered to vote in the UK at some point within the past 15 years, you can still be on the register as an “overseas voter”.

Registered overseas voters are eligible to vote in elections to the UK Parliament and European Parliamentary election. The European Parliamentary elections take place on 4 June 2009, and a UK Parliamentary election can be called at any time between now and 2010.

To mark UN international day of democracy and to make sure you have your say as to who represents you, here are three steps to registering:

  • Sign the declaration and ask another British citizen living overseas (but not a close relative) to sign the witness declaration
  • Return the completed form as soon as possible to the electoral registration office where you used to live.  Contact details are available at  //www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

Once registered, you can vote by post, by using a proxy in the UK or, if you are in the UK on polling day, voting in person.

To encourage UK citizens not to lose their right to vote, the Electoral Commission is running a campaign with posters, leaflets and online advertising.

Mr Proud added: “Our campaign last year was very successful and we want to build on that this year. We want to reach people wherever they are on the globe and remind them that however far away from the UK they are, they still have their chance to vote back home.”