How can British expats vote in the next general election? | Euronews answersComments
British nationals living in the European Union might be wondering how they can make their vote count on December 12 after MPs backed on Tuesday an early general election aimed at breaking the Brexit deadlock.
Euronews has compiled a step-by-step guide for Brits living in the EU on how to they can register to vote.
Make sure you are registered to vote
Making sure you are on the electoral roll is important.
Overseas voters need to re-register on the electoral roll every year so don’t wait until the last minute to check whether you’re still registered to vote.
One way to check is to contact your local electoral registration office and ask them the question.
You can normally register to vote up to 12 days before a general election; after the register closes.
To register to vote click here.
What documents should you provide?
You will need to provide certain information like your National Insurance number, previous address, as well as a passport number and, will have to specify when you left the UK — an important piece of information given the 15-year rule around voting.
As per UK law: "British citizens living overseas are entitled to be registered to vote in UK Parliamentary elections for up to 15 years in the constituency they were registered in before leaving the UK."
The government, however, has pledged to end the 15-year limit and give Brits living overseas voting rights for life.
You’ll be registered in the constituency where you last voted or where you were last registered.
The UK government website says that if you want to vote in England, Scotland or Wales, you can register to vote on the website.
If you want to vote in Northern Ireland, you need to register by post.
Proxy or postal? Which one is best?
When you are an overseas voter, you have two options to vote — by proxy or postal. If you happen to be in the UK the day of the election you can also go and vote in person.
You'll be asked to make your choice when you register to vote.
A proxy vote is cast in the last constituency you lived in, so the person you choose to be your proxy must drop off your ballot at the correct polling station.
The coalition group of British citizens living in the EU, British in Europe, recommends Brits to favour vote by proxy rather than by post.
"Following the issues of getting postal ballots to Brits in the continent in time to return, the best thing to do is cut out the international post element, especially once Christmas post is factored in," Kathryn Dobson from British in Europe said.
"We have made a series of recommendations that the UK Government should consider to improve the ways that overseas electors vote in UK elections," the UK's electoral commission told Euronews.
"These include exploring the possibility of overseas electors printing off their own ballot papers and returning them to their returning officer and voting in embassies or consulates. Any changes to the law are a matter for the UK Government and Parliament to consider."
How do postal votes work?
To apply for a postal vote then you can print and fill out this form and send it to your electoral registration office.
Postal votes must be returned to the local authority or polling station by 10 pm on polling day, the electoral commission said.
If a proxy voter cannot make it to the polling station, they can also send in the ballot by post.
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.