British citizens living abroad are now eligible to register to vote in UK general elections, regardless of how long they’ve been living outside the UK. A new law has removed the previous 15-year time limit.
Supporting the awareness raising campaign of the Electoral Commission, North East Lincolnshire Council is calling on residents to spread the word and to tell friends and family living abroad to check if they are eligible.
Those that have previously lived in or been registered to vote in the UK now have the right to vote in UK parliament elections. They can register online at www.gov.uk/registertovote and will need to confirm their personal information every three years. Anyone on a UK electoral register is also considered a permissible donor to UK political parties and campaigners.
Rob Walsh, Returning Officer at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “This change means that more British citizens living abroad who previously lived in North East Lincolnshire may now be eligible to register to vote and vote in this area. If you know anyone who used to live locally and is now living abroad, spread the word so they are aware of their rights.
“If they want to have their say at the next election, they need to be registered. It only takes five minutes and can be done online at gov.uk/registertovote. It’s also now possible to apply online to vote by post or by proxy.”
The government estimates that the abolishment of the 15-year rule could mean three million more British citizens could be eligible to vote. Resources are available from the Electoral Commission to help reach the UK’s dispersed diaspora, and the Commission is working with partner organisations to help spread the word.
Applicants will need to provide details of the address and time they were last registered or resident. North East Lincolnshire Council must be able to verify an applicant’s identity and past connection to the area.
More information is available on the Electoral Commission’s website, along with a post code lookup tool that helps voters living overseas find the contact details for their local authority, using the postcode of the last place they lived in the UK. Many voters living abroad choose to vote by post or proxy. Applications for absent votes can now also be done online.