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Last ditch plea for UK expats to register to vote

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Last ditch plea for UK expats to register to vote
Photo of someone voting: Shutterstock
17:19 CEST+02:00
With the UK general election looming, expats are being reminded to register to vote before next week's deadline.

The UK Electoral Commission is urging all expats who have not already done so to register to vote.

The registration deadline is April 20th, only one week away.

"There is now just a matter of days left until the April 20th deadline, so we’re encouraging UK expats to join the many others who have already registered to vote online. It takes just a few minutes at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and is far easier than the old, paper based process," said Alex Robertson, Director of Communications at the Electoral Commission.

It is important for any UK citizen overseas that wishes to register for a postal vote to do so as quickly as possible so that they can receive and return their postal ballot packs in good time before polling day. 

Estimates show that there could be as many as 5.5 million UK citizens living overseas and only 15,849 overseas voters on the UK electoral registers. 

Of course, not all Britons are eligible to vote due to the so-called '15-year rule' that prevents expats who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting in UK elections.

The introduction of an online registration portal in June 2014 has seen thousands more overseas residents registering to vote, finding the system easier than the previous paper based forms.

"There’s been a great response so far and we don’t want anyone to miss out on having their say on polling day," said Robertson.

UK citizens who have been registered to vote in a UK constituency in the last 15 years may be eligible to register.

Overseas voters can choose to vote either by post or by proxy – where a trusted person is nominated to vote on behalf of another.

The deadline to register to vote is midnight on Monday 20th April.

The Local recently talked to expats around Europe on why they would - or would not - be voting in the UK's general election on May 7th 2015. 

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