How to vote in the British election
Tony Blair is widely tipped to call a General Election in Britain this year. So how can British expats make sure their voice is heard? Here's a guide.
Can British expats vote from abroad?
Expats are entitled to vote in British General Elections for up to 15 years after moving abroad. However, you must have been registered to vote in the UK within that period.
Expats can vote in the British General Election and European Union Elections. But you cannot vote in local elections.
How to register to vote
Fill out the form, which can be downloaded from The Electoral Commission at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/documents/overseas_registration.pdf.
Sign the declaration, and have someone witness that signature.
You're advised to register as soon as you can -pundits predict the election to be as soon as May.
How to vote
You can vote in one of three ways.
By post: Your ballot paper will be sent to you in the mail about a week before the election. You therefore need to make sure you can return it to Britain in time — it must be received by 10pm on election day. If it's too late, it won't be counted. If you are in doubt that you will be able to return the paper in time, it would be better to vote by proxy (see below). You must fill in an application form to vote by post. The form can be downloaded at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/documents/overseas_registration.pdf. Return the form to the electoral registration office at which you are registered. (In Northern Ireland, see www.electoralofficeni.gov.uk)
By proxy: You can ask someone else to vote on your behalf. This person must be aged 18 or over, a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen and be living in the UK. Your proxy can either vote at the polling station for the area where you are registered, or by post. You need to fill in a form to appoint a proxy. The form can be downloaded from http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/documents/overseas_registration.pdf. (In Northern Ireland, see www.electoralofficeni.gov.uk) The electoral registration office at which you are registered must receive the form at least six working days before the election.
In person: If you are in the UK on election day, you can vote in person. But you can only vote at the polling station at which you are registered. You cannot vote at your local embassy or consulate. And you cannot vote in person if you or your proxy have applied to vote by post. If you have appointed a proxy, you can still vote in person, provided your proxy has not already voted.
Service and Crown personnel
If you are serving abroad with the armed forces or for the British government, you should complete an annual service declaration from your service unit or electoral registration officers. You then need to register at the UK address where you last lived or would be living if you were still in the UK. For more information, see: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/your-vote/yourvotefaqs.cfm/faqs/93
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: British expats, overseas voting, British election