By Deirdre Tynan • 02 June 2021 • 7:03
Votes for life for Britons living abroad under new measures.
New measures are set to make it easier for British citizens who have moved abroad to vote in UK elections.
British citizens who have moved abroad, including to Spain, will be given “votes for life” as the Government scraps the arbitrary 15-year limit on the voting rights.
The new measures will also make it easier for overseas electors to remain registered to vote for longer.
“Together, these changes will empower more British citizens living overseas to participate in our democracy,” the Cabinet office said in a statement.
“Decisions made in the UK Parliament on foreign policy, defence, immigration, pensions and trade deals affect British citizens who live overseas. It is therefore right that they have a say in UK Parliamentary General Elections,” it added.
The changes, which will form part of the Elections Bill, will also include measures to enable overseas electors to stay registered to vote for longer, with an absent voting arrangement in place.
Minister of State for the Cabinet Office Lord True, said, “In an increasingly global and connected world, most British citizens living overseas retain deep ties to the United Kingdom. Many still have family here, have a history of hard work in the UK behind them, and some have even fought for our country.
“These measures support our vision for a truly Global Britain, opening up our democracy to British citizens living overseas who deserve to have their voices heard in our Parliament, no matter where they choose to live,” he added.
The new rules will mean overseas electors can stay registered for longer, including with an absent voting arrangement in place, requiring them to renew their registration details once every three years, rather than annually.
Electors will be able to reapply for a postal vote or refresh their proxy vote at the same time as renewing their voter registration, streamlining the process and helping to ensure overseas electors have appropriate voting arrangements in place ahead of an election.
The Government’s wider Elections Bill will also: improve access to voting for electors with disabilities; prevent foreign interference by hostile actors; tackle electoral fraud by post, proxy, in polling stations or through intimidation and undue influence; and increase transparency and accountability within our elections.
Currently, to register as an overseas elector you must be a British citizen and have been registered to vote in UK Parliamentary Elections in the UK within the previous 15 years. In some cases, you may register if you were too young to have been registered before you left the UK.
Overseas electors will only be entitled to register in respect of one UK address. They also ensuring that the individual continues to have a demonstrable connection to a UK address.
Individuals will apply to register at the last address at which they were registered, or, if they were never registered, at the last address at which they were resident.
Overseas electors registered in the UK will continue to be able to vote by proxy, by post, or in person if they happen to be in their constituency on polling day.
The Euro Weekly News is running a campaign to help reunite Brits in Spain with their family and friends by capping the costs of PCR tests for travel. Please help us urge the government to cap costs at http://www.euroweeklynews.com/2021/04/16/ewn-champions-the-rights-of-brits-in-spain-to-see-loved-ones-again/
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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.
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