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Proxy or postal vote? Brits in EU urged to register ahead of likely 'Brexit election'

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Proxy or postal vote? Brits in EU urged to register ahead of likely 'Brexit election'
Is Britain heading for a new election? Photo: AFP
13:24 CEST+02:00
Events in the British parliament this week appear to have vastly increased the likelihood of a general election in the coming months. Brits in the EU are being urged to register, with many arguing proxy voting is preferable to the somewhat unreliable postal votes.

The UK appears to be heading for another general election and this one might matter more than most to Britons living abroad, especially those in the EU.

The general view is that the future rights of Britons living in the EU – and indeed their futures in general – will depend on who wins the next general election.

That's because the outcome of Brexit is still undecided, but the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears ready to take the UK out of Europe without a deal on October 31st.

So Britons living in the EU are being urged to make sure they are registered to vote, at least those who are eligible.

Tens of thousand of Brits will be denied a vote because they have lived outside the UK for over 15 years.

But many more are simply not registered to vote.

Although there an estimated 5.5 million Brits living abroad in December 2013 – including 1.2 million in the EU – there were only 26,000 registered to vote.

After a campaign by the Electoral Commission that figure had increased to 264,000 by 2016.

So what do I need to do?

The first step to voting in any election in the UK is to make sure you are on the electoral roll or register. You can normally register to vote up to 12 days before a general election, after which the register closes.

You can do that online by visiting https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

You'll need certain information like your National Insurance number and your previous address as well as your passport number. But the process only takes a few minutes.

Note you will also be expected to say when you left the UK, which is important given the 15 year rule around voting. While you might be tempted to shift the dates to be able to vote, you are warned that the information you give must be truthful.

One thing to note is that you will be registered in the constituency where you last voted (or were last registered) rather than for example your home town.

Overseas voters need to re-register on the electoral roll every year so many voters end up falling off it in between elections without realising, even though reminders are meant to be sent out.

You can contact your local electoral office to find out your status.

Proxy versus postal?

When you register as an overseas voter you will be asked whether you want to vote by proxy (in other words get someone you trust to vote for you) or by post. You can also vote in person by returning to the UK although that's unlikely to be possible for most people.

The question of proxy or post is increasingly important, as current conversations on online forums will attest.

There have been numerous problems around postal voting in recent elections not least May's European elections when scores of Brits in the EU saw their votes go uncounted.

One British resident living in the EU said that he had been warned by his local council that "if an election is called before 2022 postal voting packs will not be able to be sent out on time."

If Britain holds an October election there are fears councils may simply not be able to process postal applications as well as get all the ballot papers sent out on time for them to be returned by the close of the count.

As a result, and due to the previous unreliability of postal voting, many Britons have concluded that it's better to register for proxy vote.

What you need to be aware of for a proxy vote is that it will be cast in the last constituency you lived in, so you will need to know someone living in that constituency who is registered to vote and who is willing to cast your ballot at the correct polling station. They will be sent a card telling them where exactly they need to go.

You'll need to also make sure your proxy voter is not casting ballots for others either as one voter is only entitled to cast ballots for TWO other people.

Note that local political parties offer to organise proxy voters for you if you are struggling to find one. Your proxy voter can also send in the ballot by post for you, although then you are relying on the post once again.

"If your proxy cannot get to the polling station, they can apply to vote for you by post. They can apply to do this by 5pm, 11 working days before the poll. They can contact the electoral registration office for more details and to request a further application form," reads the information from the government.

To apply for a proxy vote you need to download and send in this form to your former local electoral office by either email or post.

The application must arrive six working days before the poll.

If you are registered to vote and still prefer to apply for a postal vote then you can print and fill out this form and send it to your electoral registration office. To find out more visit www.yourvotematters.co.uk

Note that your application to register for a postal vote must arrive at the electoral office 12 days before the vote and your actual ballot must arrive by polling day, which unfortunately has not always been the case.

If you have any further questions or points to make abut voting from overseas please contact us at news@thelocal.fr

 
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The Local is not responsible for content posted by users.
Boggy - 05 Sep 2019 14:13
"Tens of thousand of Brits will be denied a vote because they have lived outside the UK for over 15 years."
So where's this so called democracy the readers of the British guttersnipe press are always screaming about?
Swiss Tony - 06 Sep 2019 09:08
Thanks The Local for your unbias reporting. Auto renew cancelled.Adios.
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