Long-awaited details on how to re-register to vote in the UK for citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years have been published.
The regulations will come into force on January 16 and will affect around three million people worldwide, including those who lost the right to vote in France.
These UK citizens will be able to apply through a revamped online process before the end of January, in time for the next UK general election, which is likely to take place in the spring or autumn.
Read more: January target for UK to win back votes lost to Britons in France
Don’t assume you’re on the electoral roll
Groups supporting Britons in France are also advising those who have not lost their voting rights under the old 15-year limit and have not yet registered to do so now with the UK government.website.
Don’t assume you’re still recording; Until now, annual renewal was required for people abroad, but this changes every three years.
Election officials now know how to re-register voters abroad
Jenny Shorten, chair of the LibDems in France, said: “Many election managers in the UK have told us they expect a huge rush when the new process begins.
“Britons who have not been abroad and registered for more than 15 years should do so before the new year.”
Photo: Jenny Shorten is the president of the LibDems in France; Credit: Jenny Shorten
The new regulations, which are now undergoing final checks, set out details of how UK citizens can re-register following the Electoral Act 2022.
Ms Shorten said they had given election officials the details needed to complete the forms and other administrators and that their publication was “relieving”.
Who is advised to re-register between January 16-31?
Who can register now?
If you belong to the following groups, you can register now:
Britons who have never lived in the UK will not be able to vote.
How to register?
If you’re applying online, start preparing your documents, including copies, scans, or high-quality photographs; this is recommended.
You will need your National Insurance number or a UK ID document such as a UK passport; Even an expired passport is acceptable.
If you are applying now, you must provide the address where you or your parent/guardian was last registered to vote.
Read more: Britons in France among those fearful of fighting to get voting rights in UK
What does it take if you can’t sign up until January?
If you were previously registered in a UK constituency you will need to provide your address there, but if you left more than 15 years ago and have not registered as an overseas voter since then accessing records may be difficult.
If so, you should look for documentary evidence of your last address in the UK. This may include:
A letter from a school, college or university confirming attendance or offer of a place, or a letter from the Student Loans Company
Form P45 or P60 or reference or pay slip issued by a UK employer
Bank passbook or statement, or a letter from the bank confirming that an account has been opened, or a credit card statement
What if you don’t have any documents?
If all else fails (for example, because you left the UK as a child and never had such documents), local council officers will be able to ask for ‘proof of previous residence’, according to regulations.
It’s unclear on the website whether providing this in advance will be an option.
The attestation will be a signed declaration that you live at a named address in the United Kingdom and an indication of the dates you have lived there to the knowledge of the attestor.
Those who approve must be UK voters and must be ‘well off in society’, unless they are overseas voters. They can only do this for two people.
Ms Shorten said it was so far unclear whether a person’s ‘good standing in society’ was relevant to the constituency in which they would vote.
Postal ballot delays remain a concern
He added that the opportunity to deal with postal voting delays that people were experiencing was “not fully captured” in the regulations.
The government has promised that priority will be given to sending the bales abroad, but plans to continue providing ‘business reply’ envelopes for returns, which French post offices are not always familiar with.
Ms Shorten said it was also likely that time would once again be very tight as some Britons abroad would not be sure their ballot papers had arrived on time.
It recommends the proxy option. It has been promised that it will now be easier to vote online while simultaneously registering to vote.
It is not necessary for the proxy to reside in the constituency where you will vote, because it is possible to request a proxy vote by post.
These need to be UK votes and, under the new rules, no more than four people should be proxies abroad.
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