Voting in the EU referendum
Did you know you may be eligible to vote in the EU Referendum? If you have been on the electoral roll in the UK within the last 15 years then you can register to vote in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
The British Ambassador Simon Manley this week launched a major campaign to make expats aware that they may be eligible to have their say in the EU referendum – provided they register to vote in good time.
Speaking at a meeting with representatives of the expat community to launch the registration campaign, Mr Manley said:
“Interest among expats in the EU referendum is high, but awareness that you may be able to vote is low. We want as many expats as possible to be aware that they can have their say.
“You can register to vote in a few minutes via the government website www.gov.uk – and do encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same.”
The British Embassy in Madrid is backing a global campaign by the Electoral Commission to encourage Britons who live overseas to register to vote.
Some 283,000 Britons are registered on the padrón as resident in Spain, but just 11,000 are registered to vote in the UK. So the vast majority of expats will miss out on having their say in the referendum – unless they take a few simple steps.
To register as an overseas voter, you must have been registered in a UK constituency within the last 15 years. All you have to do is visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote with your passport details and National Insurance number to hand, and the postcode of where you last lived in the UK.
You can choose how you want to vote: by post, by proxy (voting by appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf), or even in person if by chance you will be in your UK local authority area on polling day.
All it takes is five minutes to register. And because overseas voters must allow enough time for their ballot paper to be posted from the UK, you should do it now rather than wait for the final deadline, at which point it may be too late to use a postal vote effectively.
Postal ballot papers will be despatched about a month ahead of the referendum – earlier than for the General Election last year – giving overseas voters more time to receive, complete, and return their ballot pack to the UK.
The Embassy is urging Brits to pass on the register to vote message via its ‘Brits living in Spain’ accounts on Facebook and Twitter, the expat media and a wide range of partners that work with the British Consulates in Spain.
If you are active on Twitter then do tell others that #YourVoteMatters and add the URL http://bit.ly/1RGrh5H so that they can register too.
Go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and make sure you can have your say.
How you can register to vote in the EU Referendum
- A referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union will be held by the end of 2017. It could even be this year – the date hasn’t been announced yet.
- If you were registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years, then you can register as an overseas voter and have your say. #yourvotematters.
- Go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and fill in your data. All you need is your National Insurance number, passport details and date of birth. (Even if you don’t have an NI number, you can still register.)
- Choose how you want to vote – by post, proxy, or even in person if you will be in the UK on polling day. If you choose to vote by post, ballot forms will be despatched about one month ahead, giving you time to receive, complete and return your vote to the UK.
- Do register early, so you have done it well before the referendum date is announced. If you wait, you may miss your chance to have your say.
- Just as in the UK, you need to register annually. So if you registered as an overseas voter for last year’s General Election, you need to renew your registration for the EU vote.
- Out of 283,000 Britons officially resident in Spain, just 11,000 were registered to vote in last year’s General Election. Many British expats could miss out on the EU referendum, so tell your friends and family to register too.
- Use Facebook and Twitter to pass the message on that #yourvotematters.
The British Embassy and its network of consulates in Spain work with local and expat partner organisations to assist British nationals. Consular enquiries - 902 109 356 (in Spain) / +34 913 342 194 (outside Spain) British nationals who need emergency assistance outside normal office hours should call +34 902 109 356 where they will be given details on how to proceed and how to contact a duty officer if needed.