Don’t miss the boat! Not long to go until the deadline to register to vote

The deadline to register to vote as an overseas elector at the 2015 UK general election is fast approaching, with just days now left before the deadline to register on Monday 20 April.

Whilst that isn’t far away there is still time to register, even if you are far away and are living overseas. Although we would encourage you to do it now, before the deadline, so that those of you that are postal voters can get your ballot packs sent and returned in good time before polling day on 7 May.

At the Electoral Commission in the UK, with the help of our partners, we’ve been working to encourage UK citizens who live abroad to register since our campaign launched in early February.

Did you know that if you’ve been registered in the UK in the last fifteen years, you could register as an overseas voter to take part in the UK general election on Thursday 7 May? You can choose to vote either by post or by proxy (where you appoint someone you trust to vote on your behalf). But you can only do this if you are registered first, and you must do this by Monday 20 April at the latest to vote at this general election. And you can now register online here.

Since the introduction of the online application service, we’ve seen tens of thousands of British citizens logging on from overseas to register online.

Over 70,000 people have applied online from 196 different countries outside of the UK since February; from all around the world, people are signing up; from Argentina to Zambia. This is really brilliant to see, but we know that there are still more people out there who could do the same but haven’t got around to doing it yet. In fact, you might even know a few, so please pass the message on to friends, family or colleagues.

With just days now left, we are busily reminding UK based voters that the registration deadline is just around the corner. But as I’ve mentioned, for UK citizens overseas, we need to highlight that the urgency is even greater as you still need to make sure that there’s time to return postal or proxy application forms too.

But don’t let this put you off. The new online system has shown to work exceptionally well with reports from the Cabinet Office stating a user satisfaction rate of over 90%. For UK citizens who are living overseas in particular, the online application process means that taking the first step is easier than before, removing the need to download and post off the application form. You can submit your details and apply to register in a few minutes rather than a few days (or even weeks)!

This really is the last chance to register for the 2015 UK general election, so please go online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote today and make sure you don’t miss the boat. Take the opportunity to take part if you can. Remember – Your vote matters.

Megan Phillips, Communications Officer

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2 Responses to Don’t miss the boat! Not long to go until the deadline to register to vote

  1. msbell2013 says:

    I read your article with interest. My husband and I live in Hong Kong and very much wanted to vote in the forthcoming elections. We registered online right at the beginning of the year. We downloaded the forms that were sent via email, filled them in and sent them off. We heard nothing. Colleagues here in HK started saying how they had tried to vote in the past and had never recieved their packs in time. I then started to make my own enquiries and contacted my local council back home. There has never been any mention of our on line registration or receipt of the forms we sent. I was then told that there were additional forms to be filled in and to be sent back. If I had not made contact I would of been non the wiser. It was then confirmed that the voting packs would only be sent out between the 17th and 25th of April. It can take a week for post to get here and then the a week to get back. If the vote only gets sent on the 25th it would mean it unlikely that we would get our vote pack in time. Many of my colleagues said for the last election they only recieved their votes the day before the Election Day. Too late.
    I expressed my concern with my council. They’ve tried to be helpful. They have sent more forms. I am by chance going to be in the UK at the end of April. So, if it can be processed in time my postal vote will be sent to a family members house so I can vote. My husband is trying to arrange for me to vote for him by proxy. If I hadn’t been visiting I doubt if we would if been able to vote. It’s still not a certainty.
    I’ve found the whole process confusing and frustrating. I’ve filled in a number of forms none of which I would be known about if I had not made personal contact. You say there is no need to post off forms but I’ve found that not to be the case. I’ve filled in and sent off six forms in total for the two of us.
    I certainly would not give a 90% customer satisfaction. I just wanted to vote and it’s been made very difficult.

  2. Philippa says:

    I have had a similar experience. I only realised I could vote whilst living abroad about a week ago, after having previously receiving incorrect information. I registered online and was told my local council back in the UK would be in touch, so far I haven’t heard a thing. There were some forms attached to a confirmation email I received, yet it wasn’t clear if they were in addition to, or instead of the forms I filled in online. In any case, even filling in and sending the forms off is unlikely to meet the 20th April deadline as mail from the United States is a bit hit or miss, sometimes things I send home take a few days, other times a couple of weeks. The whole process could be made much simpler, although I suspect simplifying the process could open it up to abuse. There really ought to be clearer information and advice for ex pats.

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