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Changes to Expat Voting Rules for Brits on the Cards

Source: Expatriate Healthcare - Sun 18th Jan 2015
Changes to Expat Voting Rules for Brits on the Cards

British PM David Cameron has made no secret of the fact that he considers the "expat vote" to be a critical part of his upcoming election campaign. It should therefore come as no surprise that the Conservative government are seeking to make changes to the current voting rules for expats.

The changes will enable more British expats than ever before to vote on matters of national importance, and these additional votes could be enough to help swing an election in the Conservatives direction later in the year.

The current rules enable expats living abroad to vote on political matters, though this right is withdrawn when the individual has lived overseas for 15 years or more. Whether or not this is right is up for discussion, though frankly in the past the UK's expat population seem to have received little attention from politicians.

One reason for this is just how few expats actually bother to vote - even when they're allowed to. Less than 30,000 overseas votes are normally received and so this less-motivated group have largely been ignored.

Now, though, Tory MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is championing the cause, insisting that "the 15 year rule" is anachronistic and denies many legitimate voters a chance to have their input on how Britain and her territories should be governed.

Experts seem rather cynical over whether the legislation will pass. For one, the proposal is at a very early stage and will require considerable discussion and consultation before being voted into law. For another the government will be dissolved in May in readiness for the upcoming general election and it seems it is unlikely the legislation will be approved by then. It may all be a case of "too little, too late" for overseas voters.

That said, if and when the legislation is approved, it could activate a sizeable army of voters. At present, the size of the expat population missing out on voting is estimated to be around 1 million people. Even just a small proportion of these people voting could help to sway an election. If approved, Mr Clifton-Brown hopes that his initiative will add a minimum of 100,000 additional votes at future elections.

Furthermore, experts suggest that the party who manage to activate these voters should expect a large portion of the resultant votes. Expats who are keen to have their say in British politics but have been excluded in the past thanks to the 15 year rule are encouraged to contact their party of choice and encourage them to support the forthcoming vote.

Recommended Reading :

* Spain's DGT : Expats of 2 Years must renew driving licence by 19th Jan

* Countdown to change in UK driving licence law for Expats

Comment on this Story

If Ian Duncan Smith manages to rob ex pats of their winter fuel allowance I do not think many of us would be voting Tory !!
Alex Anderson - Mon, 19th Jan 2015

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