Published on

2 February 2024

Raising awareness of changes to overseas voting

An additional three million British citizens could be eligible to vote at general elections

An elector casting their vote

Wokingham Borough Council is trying to spread the word about key changes to overseas voting, which will be coming into effect for the next Parliamentary General Election.

Any British citizen previously registered to vote in the UK, or who previously lived in the UK, is now able to register to vote in UK general elections, regardless of how long they have been living outside of the UK. The Elections Act, which was passed in 2022, has removed the previous 15-year limit.

It is estimated that this change means an additional three million British citizens could be eligible to vote. The date of the next general election is yet to be announced, but it must be held by 28 January 2025 and it could be called sooner.

The Electoral Commission is calling on residents to share information with friends and family living abroad to check if they are eligible.

Those that have previously lived in or been registered to vote in the UK now have the right to vote in UK parliament elections. They will need to register to vote and confirm their personal information every three years instead of annually.

Anyone on a UK electoral register is also considered a permitted donor to UK political parties and campaigners.

Check you are eligible

Andrew Moulton, Returning Officer at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “This change means that more British citizens living abroad who previously lived in Wokingham Borough may now be eligible to register to vote and vote in this area. If you know anyone who used to live locally and is now living abroad, spread the word so they are aware of their rights.

“If they want to have their say at the next General Election, they need to be registered. It only takes five minutes and can be done online. It’s also now possible to apply online to vote by post or by proxy.”

Applicants will need to provide details of the address and time they were last registered while a resident of Wokingham Borough, as the council must be able to verify the applicant’s identity and past connection to the area.

More information is available on the Electoral Commission’s website, along with a postcode search tool to help voters living overseas and find contact details for the appropriate local authority, using the postcode of the last place they lived in the UK.

For general elections, there are now two parliamentary constituencies in Wokingham Borough: the existing Wokingham constituency and the new Earley & Woodley constituency. This change came as a result of a review carried out by the Boundary Commission for England.

The changes to overseas voting are part of wider changes to elections and voting as part of the Elections Act 2022. This includes changes to postal and proxy voting, as well as the requirement to bring photo ID to vote, which was introduced last year.

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