Brussels – The British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium warmly welcomes the new law removing the 15-year time limit on the eligibility of expatriates to vote in U.K. elections.
In a historic move, the United Kingdom has extended the right to vote to an estimated 3.5 million British citizens living abroad for more than 15 years. The Election Act 2022, which abolished the previous 15-year time limit, brings the UK in line with other major democracies like the US, France, Italy, and Canada, allowing lifelong voting rights for its citizens.
This significant change is the result of a long-standing campaign led by individuals such as World War Two veteran Harry Shindler, who dedicated his life to challenging the 15-year limit on voting rights. Unfortunately, Mr. Shindler passed away in 2023 at the age of 101, but his legacy lives on in the enactment of this legislation.
The amendment allows affected British citizens to register in the last constituency they were signed up in before leaving the UK, offering them the opportunity to participate in the upcoming UK general election, expected this fall. Additionally, children who left the UK before voting age can register using the address of their parent or guardian.
Overseas voters can now register online, similar to UK resident voters, and will be eligible to vote in the constituency they lived in before moving abroad. Local councils will verify their past connection to the area. Notably, having their names on the electoral register enables long-term British expatriates to contribute to political parties and campaigns.
This change signifies a crucial step in recognising the rights of Britons living abroad and aligns the UK with democratic practices observed by other major nations. As the British diaspora prepares to exercise their newly granted voting rights, it remains to be seen how this shift will influence future policies and political considerations on a global scale.
Click HERE to register to vote in the UK.