Expat campaigners want to rally hundreds of thousands of Brits living abroad to register to vote in General Election 2015.
Lobby group Votes For Expat Brits argues that if expats cast a vote, the next government will face more pressure to extend the vote to expats who have lost their right to choose and MP because they have lived away from the UK for more than 15 years.
The 15-year rules means expats are no longer able to vote in UK or European elections.
The group claims:
- Seven out of 10 expats do not know when the deadline to register to vote falls
- 13% believe the deadline has already passed
- Only a third knew the registration deadline for the May 7 election is April 20
- 40% of expats fail to realise online voting registration is available, while the number increased to 53% for the 18 to 24 year old age group
Other deadlines fall on the following days.
April 21 is the final date for applying for a postal vote, while April 28 is the final date for proxy vote applications.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission is running a campaign to encourage expats to register to vote in the election with advertising and promotions in expat hot spots overseas.
British expats can register online for a vote in the May 7 General Election.
The Electoral Commission estimates that out of 5.5 million British expats spread across the world, only 20,000 have registered to vote.
Director of Communications Alex Robertson said: “Many expats are unaware that they can register as an overseas voter for the General Election 2015.
“We are working to overturn this misapprehension that once someone moves overseas they are no longer able to take an active part in politics at home. The truth is registering online is easy and makes voting in Britain accessible to more expats than ever before.
“If someone wants a say in what is going on in Britain, they should take up their right to vote.”
Due to the fast approaching deadlines and the vagaries of international post, appointing a proxy to vote is considered a better option than a postal vote.
Generally, expats have the right to vote in the last constituency they lived in prior to leaving the UK, however, their proxy does not have to live in that constituency to cast a vote for someone overseas.