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Changes to Expat Voting Rules for Brits on the Cards

British Prime Minister David Cameron has made no secret of

the fact that he considers the ”expat vote” to be a critical part of his

upcoming election campaign. It should therefore come as no surprise that the

Conservative government are seeking to make changes to the current voting rules

for expats.

These rules will enable more British expats than ever before

to vote on matters of national importance, and these additional votes could be

enough to help swing an election in the Conservatives direction later in the

year.

The current rules enable expats living abroad to vote on

political matters, though this right is withdrawn when the individual has lived

overseas for 15 years or more. Whether or not this is right is up for

discussion, though frankly in the past the UK’s expat population seem to have

received little attention from politicians.

One reason for this is just how few expats actually bother

to vote – even when they’re allowed to. Less than 30,000 overseas votes are

normally received and so this less-motivated group have largely been ignored.

Now, though, Tory MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is championing

the cause, insisting that ”the 15 year rule” is anachronistic and denies many

legitimate voters a chance to have their input on how Britain and her

territories should be governed.

Experts seem rather cynical over whether the legislation

will pass. For one, the proposal is at a very early stage and will require

considerable discussion and consultation before being voted into law. For

another the government will be dissolved in May in readiness for the upcoming

general election and it seems it is unlikely the legislation will be approved

by then. It may all be a case of ”too little, too late” for overseas voters.

That said, if and when the legislation is approved, it could

activate a sizeable army of voters. At present, the size of the expat

population missing out on voting is estimated to be around 1 million people.

Even just a small proportion of these people voting could help to sway an

election. If approved, Mr Clifton-Brown hopes that his initiative will add a

minimum of 100,000 additional votes at future elections.

Furthermore, experts suggest that the party who manage to

activate these voters should expect a large portion of the resultant votes.

Expats who are keen to have their say in British politics

but have been excluded in the past thanks to the 15 year rule are encouraged to

contact their party of choice and encourage them to support the forthcoming

vote.

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