A campaign to persuade British expats to vote in the European and local elections fell well short of its target, according to the Electoral Commission. An estimated 5.5 million Britons live overseas, but only a fraction – around 20,000 – were registered to vote in the UK as of February this year. The commission ran a campaign in the weeks before the elections on May 22 to encourage 25,000 more of them to register. However, only 7,079 did so – less than a third of the number hoped for. The Electoral Commission’s pre-ballot campaign involved advertisements on expat radio stations, and collaborations with the Foreign Office, groups such as Votes for Expat Brits, and political parties’ overseas networks. But in a report reflecting on the campaign, the commission disclosed that, although the number of registration forms downloaded from its website by Britons overseas was higher than for the previous European elections, it “fell well short” of its target. “Although we were disappointed not to hit our target we recognise that expatriates at these elections may have chosen to register to vote in their EU countries of residence,” said the report.
In the run up to the elections, expats who downloaded voter registration forms had to print them out, fill them in, get them countersigned by another British passport holder and then post them back to the UK. The Electoral Commission admitted this was an “onerous task” which may have been off-putting. On June 10, the process was updated so that expats can now complete their registration entirely online.
“The introduction of online registration will make this process a great deal more straightforward in future,” said the commission, which will launch another publicity drive targeting expats ahead of the General Election next May.
Full Article: Expat voter drive fell flat – Telegraph.