By Bejay Browne
With no end in sight to the Brexit drama and an early general election looking ever more likely, British expats in Cyprus who want a say in the momentous events engulfing Britain are being advised to organise proxy votes as soon as possible.
British citizens living abroad may vote in UK general elections for up to 15 years after leaving the UK. However, they may only do so if they were registered to vote in the UK while living there.
Unless they intend to return to the UK to vote, expat voters have two options: proxy or postal votes.
Of the two, a proxy vote is the best option says Paphos resident Geoff Cosson.
“British citizens living in Cyprus are keen to vote in UK elections, and yet earlier this year many people were unable to receive and return postal votes [for the UK European elections], partly because some councils in Britain used slow postal services,” he said.
”Lots of people didn’t get their papers sent back in time to be counted. Many people don’t know that they can avoid problems by having a proxy to vote for them in the UK.”
He uses a family member as a proxy to vote on his behalf, he explained.
A spokesman for the British High Commission explained that overseas voters can apply to vote by proxy as well as postal votes, which means that they can appoint someone to vote on their behalf. Anyone may act as a proxy, as long as they are registered to vote and there are different forms to fill in, depending on why a voter is appointing a proxy and can’t get to the polling station.
He said that when voting by post, voters need to make sure they have time to receive and return their ballot papers by polling day.
“If they think they won’t be able to return them in time, they may want to consider voting by proxy. To check when postal votes are being sent out, overseas voters need to contact the local authority of the address they are registered to.”
British nationals who are eligible to vote and want to appoint a new proxy must submit their applications at least six working days before the election. The registered proxy voter must then go to the polling station to vote. The registered proxy will be sent a proxy poll card, telling them where and when to vote on behalf of the overseas voter.
“Both the overseas voters and the persons they appoint as their proxy must be registered under the new voting registration system. It is a more reliable alternative than voting via post.”
And if you are not already registered to vote, your application to register must have reached your electoral registration office by midnight, 12 working days before the poll.
Useful links : Voting by post https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/how-do-i-vote/voting-by-post
Voting by proxy