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Bill seeks to offer Brits abroad ‘votes for life’ in UK

local elections in britain

Brits living overseas might get ‘votes for life’ as the British parliament is set to discuss a bill scrapping the 15-year limit on voting rights in the coming days, an announcement from the British High Commission in Nicosia said on Thursday.

The move, announced in the Queen’s speech, could give three million Britons living abroad the right to vote in local and general elections in the UK.

Up until now British expats could vote in UK elections but only for up to 15 years after leaving the UK, but the Elections Bill presented to parliament on Wednesday might soon change that.

The 15-year limit has been a long-standing issue among Brits living abroad, most importantly during the Brexit referendum in 2016 when thousands were blocked from voting for having exceeded the time limit.

“In an increasingly global and connected world, most British citizens living overseas retain deep ties to the United Kingdom. Many still have family here, have a history of hard work in the UK behind them, and some have even fought for our country,” Minister of State for the Cabinet Office Lord True said.

The new proposed measures could make it easier for Brits living abroad to have a say in decisions that affect them, spanning foreign policy, defence, immigration, pensions and trade deals.

“These measures support our vision for a truly Global Britain, opening up our democracy to British citizens living overseas who deserve to have their voices heard in our Parliament, no matter where they choose to live,” Lord True added.

The changes which will form the Elections Bill will also include measures to enable overseas electors to stay registered to vote for longer by requiring a registration renewal every three years instead of one, and by arranging for an absent voting system.

In addition, electors will be able to reapply for a postal vote or refresh their proxy vote at the same time as renewing their voter registration, streamlining the process and helping to ensure overseas electors have appropriate voting arrangements in place ahead of an election.

The announcement said that the bill will also set out to tackle access to voting for electors with disabilities, prevent foreign interference, tackle electoral fraud by post, proxy, in polling stations or through intimidation and undue influence, and increase transparency and accountability within elections.

 

 

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