Lots of people don’t know that this is possible, which is perhaps one reason why out of an estimated 5.5 million UK nationals who live overseas fewer than 20,000 people are currently registered as overseas electors.
This is an important message, especially with the General Election fast approaching, so the Electoral Commission is working hard to reach expat audiences to let them know that they may be able to take part.
The really good news is that you can now register online.
In order to register you must have been previously registered in a UK constituency within the last 15 years.
If you were too young when you left the UK to have been registered, then you can register as an overseas voter if your parents (or guardians) were registered in the UK in the last 15 years.
Now with online registration, filling in the application form takes approximately five minutes, and can be done from wherever you have an internet connection. All you need is your National Insurance number and your date of birth. If you don’t have your National Insurance number you can still register, but you may be asked for some extra information by your Electoral Registration Officer.
When it comes to actually voting, it’s really important that overseas voters choose the best way of voting to suit their circumstances. You can choose to vote via one of three methods. You can vote either by post; by proxy (you designate someone you trust to vote on your behalf in the UK); or in person at a polling station in your constituency, but of course if you live overseas you’re unlikely to be able to able to do this. If you want to vote by post, please check that you will have sufficient time to receive and return your postal ballot pack. Postal votes will usually be dispatched a few weeks before polling day. For your postal vote to count, it needs to be received back by the Returning Officer by 10pm on 7 May 2015. If you live a very long way away it may be that a proxy vote would provide a good alternative.
Whichever method you choose to vote, you won’t be able to take part unless you’ve registered. That’s why the Electoral Commission is committed to spreading the message to overseas voters. We want to ensure that everyone who is eligible to take part in the General Election has the opportunity to do so.
Even if you now live outside the UK, you’re not too far away to take part and have your say at the UK General Election, so make sure you register well ahead of the registration deadline on Monday 20 April 2015.
Go online now to register at http://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and don’t forget to let others know too and pass the message on.
Director of Communications