From February 16, it will be easier for British residents abroad to vote in elections back home. The legislation governing the registration of overseas voters has been amended. There are three main changes in the new Act that will affect the registration of overseas voters. The first regards postal voting where under current legislation, overseas electors can only apply to register for a vote by proxy. The new legislation will allow postal voting. The second change regards countersignatures of applications to register. At present, applications to register must be countersigned by a British citizen who knows the applicant personally. From Friday, applications will be allowed to be countersigned by any British citizen, e.g a Consular official, provided the Consular Officer is satisfied that the applicant is a British resident overseas. The third change is that the new legislation establishes rolling electoral registers which means that any British Citizen resident overseas can apply for registration at any time during the year. Under the current legislation Britons wishing to register on an electoral register in England, Wales or Scotland, must complete their forms on or before the qualifying date of October 10 (in N.Ireland the qualifying date is September 15.) There is a fourth change - under current legislation, British citizens wishing to apply for registration as overseas electors must have been on an electoral register for an address in the UK within the 20 years prior to their current application, after the next General Election, the qualifying period will be reduced to 15 years and new leaflets and application forms will be available from the British Consulate in Palma in due course, but not before Friday.
Major changes for UK voters abroad
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