Expat voters had a big impact on who wins Election 2015 as more than 100,000 overseas voters signed up to make their mark in the ballot.
An ecstatic Electoral Commission announced almost 114,000 Brits abroad registered to take part in the election – beating the ambitious target of 100,000 voters.
The number of expats playing a part in Election 2015 is more than three times the number of overseas voters registered before the run up to the vote.
The number of expats registered to vote is twice the number in an average constituency and the expat vote is also larger than that of any single constituency.
However, unlike many other countries, Britain does not have an MP to look after the interests of expat voters.
Instead, most expats are registered to vote in the constituency where they lived before departing the UK, spreading the vote across the country.
Despite the numbers flocking to vote, expat electoral campaigners are complaining many failed to receive their ballot papers on time.
“All these applications to register need to convert into votes and unfortunately those received late won’t count because the returning officers have not sent out the required ballot papers in time,” said a spokesman for web site Votes for Expat Brits.
The web site suggests that any expat who registered but was denied a vote should:
- Complain to the electoral registration officer at the local council office in the constituency where the registration was sent
- Complain to the Electoral Commission
- Send a copy of any complaint to Votes for Expat Brits, which is compiling a list of problems expat voters face
The Electoral Commission insisted local registration officers were given clear instructions on how to deal with expat voters.
“They should have prioritised their applications to make sure their voting papers were sent out well in time for them to return for the election,” said a spokesman.
“We know expat voters are complaining they did not receive their packs in time and it’s a matter that we shall investigate and highlight in our report to Parliament later in the year.
Dealing with expat voting applications involves working to tight deadlines.
The list of election candidates was not finalised until 4pm on April 9. After the deadline passed, the ballot papers were printed and posted, confirmed the Electoral Commission spokesman.
Postal votes had to be in by 10am on the day of the election to count.
However, for some expats in remote locations, the short window to receive and return the papers means many were late.