The deadline for British expatriates who wish to vote in the forthcoming UK general election has been set for Tuesday April 20.
It is thought that an unprecedented amount of Brit expats will take up the opportunity of casting their vote this time round. Research from the Electoral Commission shows that there is a ten percent increase on the figure from 2008, and a 50 percent increase on 2005.
However, even though there is a marked increase in the amount of expat voters it still barely dents the amount of expats who choose not to vote. 13,987 expatriated British citizens have registered to vote and this is but a tiny amount when you consider that there are a total of 5.5 million Brits who officially live abroad.
Expats are allowed to vote either by post or by proxy, and some people feel that the confusing rules may put the majority of overseas Brits off the whole procedure, especially the elderly and retired. A spokesman for the International Consortium of British Pensioners, John Markham, said: “The problem here is that it’s the most incredibly complicated procedure. It means, for a lot of expats, that by the time they get the list of candidates sent to them, there’s no way they can get their vote back in time. That leaves voting by proxy, which is very time consuming as you have to register every year. The system discourages people overseas from voting. It’s important that expats are able to vote and take part in British politics.”
The electoral commission recently sought to increase the number of voters by launching an online ad campaign on known expatriate websites. Both Conservative and Labour parties had also urged expats to take their right to vote and not waste it, as of course all votes are vital, especially those in marginal constituencies.
The deadline for overseas voting is Tuesday April 20th at 5pm.