UK government aims to lift expat voting ban

The UK government has committed to ending the voting ban on long-term British expats living abroad.

Currently, expats who have lived abroad for more than 15 years are not permitted to vote in British elections – including 2016’s Brexit vote.

In a Press Announcement released on 8th February, the Government restated its commitment to ending the current 15-year time limit on British expats registering as overseas electors.

“We have been campaigning long and hard to right the injustice of British expats being disenfranchised from voting after a time limit of 15 years,” said Chairman of Conservatives Abroad Heather Harper MBE.

As well as removing a time limit on the right to vote for UK citizens living abroad, the UK government intends to enfranchise any British expat who was previously resident or registered to vote in the UK.

Currently, British expats have the lowest level of voter registration of any group. It is believed these changes would mean millions more UK citizens overseas will be eligible to register to vote.

“Participation in our democracy is a fundamental part of being British, no matter how far you have travelled from the UK,” said Minister for the Constitution Chloe Smith. “It is right that we should remove the 15-year time limit on voting rights of British citizens living overseas and allow those who previously lived in the UK the chance to participate in our democracy.

“Expats retain strong links with the United Kingdom: they may have family here, and indeed they may plan to return here in the future. Modern technology and cheaper air travel has transformed the ability of expats to keep in touch with their home country,” Smith added.

Article published 12th February 2018