I Have No Vote in the General Election, Despite Being a Council Tax Paying British Citizen

(149 Posts)
TheChandler Wed 29-Apr-15 05:34:24

Just this. Am fuming. I should be eligible to vote in Scotland.

I moved overseas on a temporary one year contract with work in September last year, renting out my house for six months. This meant I was removed from the Electoral Register due to a spot check as it did not then tally with the Council Tax register.

I wrote to the Electoral Registrar informing him that by his proposed date of removal (1st April) I would be back paying council tax for my property, as the tenants were leaving and had no further plans to rent it out, and that i was concerned that the closeness to the GE would prejudice my right to vote.

Nevertheless, he informed me that his decision could not be revised, that I would be removed and that I should register as an overseas elector for a postal vote.

I did this, and the postal vote hasn't arrived in time. Nothing at all, despite being a mainstream European country. Post tends to be very reliable.

So I am paying council tax for a property I own in the UK, am a British citizen, and I will have no vote. And by coincidence, I'm actually back for a visit tonight, staying in my property.

Any suggestions?

chickenfuckingpox Wed 29-Apr-15 05:46:55

ring them and complain from what you say you should be able to vote

shewept Wed 29-Apr-15 05:56:57

Since you are back contact them again.

By the way, I am sure the electoral register is the list, not a person. I have never heard of a electoral registrar, as a job title in this country. But I could be entirely wrong.

Do you know exactly who you spoke to?

LittleBearPad Wed 29-Apr-15 06:01:00

Sympathies - the deadline for registration waa 20 April (at least in England it was) so I don't understand why there's a problem for you being registered.

toomuchtooold Wed 29-Apr-15 06:02:29

If the postal vote arrives now you could still get it back in time to be counted (only has to arrive by polling day). But mine came a week ago so I would wonder if yours is coming at all. You need to call them.

DH lost his chance to vote this time as they asked him to complete an attestation that had to be signed by a British citizen he's not related to (hard to come by as we are abroad!) I got my overseas registration and postal vote without doing the attestation. I wonder if it is coincidence that I'm born British with a British sounding name while DH is naturalized and has a foreign sounding name?

Miltonmaid Wed 29-Apr-15 06:07:30

Call them. Are you registered for a postal vote? Ask if the paper has been sent to you yet. Everyone I know who has applied for one has now had one.

Plarail123 Wed 29-Apr-15 06:11:23

Our postal votes haven't arrived in Asia yet, I'm not freaking out. Be patient.

Rosa Wed 29-Apr-15 06:16:54

I have written to ask to have a vote , ( after calling gets me nowhere) it gets lost in the system as my parents moved counties and as I was abroad I was not registered as living at the new address. They say they are tracing back but then I hear nothing. rather the same as trying to pay voluntary NI I call there is a hitch ( its ongoing between CB and them) - I get promised a letter , a phone call follow up - Nothing . To say the least I have little or no faith and would love to vote but it seems my vote is not wanted. I however am no longer a tax payer and only a citizen not a resident .

VikingVolva Wed 29-Apr-15 06:47:36

You said you would be back before date of removal (start of April) and the deadline for changes to the register was 20th, so you had nearly 3 weeks to sort it out on return.

Or did you stay abroad (ie you are correctly registered as overseas)? So you are not at your registered location and have missed the papers for the postal vote?

I can't see that the Registrar has done anything wrong here.

TheChandler Wed 29-Apr-15 06:48:09

shewept By the way, I am sure the electoral register is the list, not a person. I have never heard of a electoral registrar, as a job title in this country. But I could be entirely wrong.

Electoral registrar - shorthand way of referring to electoral registration officer. the electoral roll is indeed a list, but it is administered by the ERO. I do know exactly whom I was dealing with, as I had a series of email communications with them, as I was one day over the two week period for appealing against the decision for removal from the Electoral Roll, and I then had to point out that they had got both my name and address wrong in later communications sent to me [although apparently this had no bearing on the decision]. I was advised by them to apply for an overseas postal vote.

Although I don't really think I am a suitable candidate for an overseas vote, as I pay council tax in the UK and I am not resident, only working temporarily abroad. but that was the official advice to me. If I had simply been allowed to remain on the normal electoral roll, I would have had a postal vote delivered to my home address, and made sure to collect it and send it off in plenty of time.

I have spent hours chasing this around in circles, and I still have no vote.

The ERO informed me that the Scottish government wrote to all local authorities after the referendum asking for updated lists of council tax, and they then checked them for inconsistencies. apparently this affected a lot of married women who had changed their names - yes, they actually told me that. even though the council tax register is only one way of proving your eligibility to vote. so because I didn't appear on it briefly, on the one day that they checked it, I have, as of the time of writing, lost my right to vote.

and I've got an awful feeling that at this late stage, its going to be very hard to do anything about it.

does anyone know when postal votes have to be received by in order to be effective.

TheChandler Wed 29-Apr-15 06:53:17

viking volva 'You said you would be back before date of removal (start of April) and the deadline for changes to the register was 20th, so you had nearly 3 weeks to sort it out on return'

I didn't say that - I said I would have to start paying council tax again on my property by the date of removal - if you have an unoccupied property in Scotland, you have to pay 100 per cent council tax on it. I am working abroad for at least a year. I often travel back home to visit people. I don't know what deadline you are referring to, I have never heard of it. I don't believe any precise date was involved, simply that I didn't appear on the council tax register on the one particular day it was checked, and then I didn't respond within the two weeks given for appealing the decision to remove, hence even though I was back on the council tax register at the date of removal, I was still removed from the electoral roll.

And now my application for an overseas postal vote seems to have gone missing. I had a feeling something like this would happen, so close to the election.

meditrina Wed 29-Apr-15 06:58:33

Electoral Law applies in every country of UK, and for elections that are held in all it will be applied in the same way everywhere.

The window for posting ballot papers was 21-28 April. It's certainly illegal to post them before the candidate lists have closed (early April), and unwise to print them before that either.

People based in places where the post can't reach them in time, or who just want to take uncertainties of postal system out of their vote, can apply for proxy votes (I did, when I was working abroad)

If you have your ballot paper, you can return it to a polling station on the day. But it sounds like you travelled at a time incompatible with the election timelines and so miss out. It's like people who are hospitalised after deadline for postal vote registration and who also miss out. There are deadlines, and sometimes people fall the wrong side of them. Deployed armed forces personnel often miss out too.

BeakyMinder Wed 29-Apr-15 07:01:47

Let me get this straight- a whole load of women, specifically, have been removed from the Electoral roll because the checking system didn't account for married name changes?

If this is true it is beyond outrageous. You should be suing the Scottish government for breaching the Equalities Act. I'm deadly serious! It's sex discrimination- all public bodies have to do impact assessments to make sure their actions don't disproportionately affect one gender. I'd say systematically depriving women of their votes, even accidentally, counts.

Complain OP, and take it to the media!

TheEggityOddity Wed 29-Apr-15 07:06:54

I don't have my ballot paper yet but I did apply very close to the deadline. I wasn't worried until now confused

TheEggityOddity Wed 29-Apr-15 07:07:11

Living overseas too btw

VikingVolva Wed 29-Apr-15 07:08:16

Apologies. I took "I would be back paying council tax" to mean you would be back and would be paying council tax. Not that you would still be away but would have resumed payment.

But if you are resident abroad, it does seem that the rules are being applied correctly. Council tax has nothing to do with eligibility to vote.

EdithWeston Wed 29-Apr-15 07:12:44

There was a huge amount of rechecking since the changes to the relevant law came into effect last October.

I've posted many times on 'do I change my name' threads, when people are toying with the idea that they use one name for some stuff and another name for other stuff that the admin of having two names is a total PITA. This is one example why. When there is an anomaly, ie records of who is at an address do not match, they have to investigate because there is no way of knowing that two differently named women are the same person unless they check.

HalfwayUpALadder Wed 29-Apr-15 07:13:41

PPs are right that the council tax register has nothing to do with the electoral register

The way the electoral register is complied has changed since last summer - a handy explanation is [here http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/electoral-roll-changes]

It is obviously difficult for random people like us to know quite what has gone on in this case, but look at the link, think about whether you replied to the registration process as you should have and once you're clear about that, then take it up with the council again...

HalfwayUpALadder Wed 29-Apr-15 07:15:05

[[ link again http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/electoral-roll-changes]]

HalfwayUpALadder Wed 29-Apr-15 07:15:43

Ah Jesus this bloody link

TheChandler Wed 29-Apr-15 07:18:49

I applied for an overseas postal vote well within the timescales allowed, and have been waiting ever since for it to be delivered. simply exercising my right as a European citizens to the right of freedom of movement. if it was posted to me abroad at the end of the period meditrina mentions, there is a chance it could be waiting for me. but even so, it is cutting it very fine that I will get it back in time, although I return tomorrow. I should imagine that voters outwith Europe would find that almost impossible. but I don't think I should have been removed from the electoral roll in the first place, and this should never have arisen. the ERO was quite clear that the checks were made due to a policy of the Scottish government of checking the electoral register just after the referendum. I have no idea whether the same was done in England.

beaky minder - I don't know how many women are involved, and I suspect it was a throwaway remark, meant to pacify me that I was not the only one affected. who knows how many were. lets just say that I find the Scottish government's timing interesting to say the least - particularly in view of the statistics relating to voting patterns in the referendum - possibly I am reading too much into that.

but if you think complaining to the Scottish government or auditing policies for sexism are likely to go beyond placatory statements that they comply with good governance measures, etc, you have far more optimism than me.

BeakyMinder Wed 29-Apr-15 07:23:31

So go to the media then. Why not make a fuss? Why accept being deprived of your vote because you're a married woman?

TheChandler Wed 29-Apr-15 07:25:37

thanks for that link halfwayupaladder. I particularly like the section where it says;

'But very little will happen at first. No one will be 'chucked off' the electoral register until after the 2015 General Election. But, if you ignore the letter, local electoral officials will try to follow up with you - by letter, phone or in person at your door.'

no follow up was done with me in the manner described - I got a letter saying I was going to be removed on 1st april, didn't respond for one day longer than the 2 week period because I was working abroad, was told I had missed the deadline for appealing the decision and was removed. even though I told them that by the date of removal, I would once more be on the council tax register for my own property, and that I was only abroad temporarily for work. all contact after receiving the letter was made by me - I phoned them, emailed them extensively pointing out that it was actually a breach of the European charter on human rights to fail to give reasons for a decision - the right to good administration - and that they had made several mistakes, all ignored - I was simply removed and told that no further review or appeal would be possible.

yes, I could have re-registered, but I was worried that I would then get into a lengthy saga of whether or not I lived abroad or not, which would go on for so long I would miss the deadline for registering as an overseas postal voter.

apologies for lack of capitals, etc - posting on a rather defunct mobile.

PeppermintCrayon Wed 29-Apr-15 07:38:29

Haven't RTFT but just wanted to say electoral registrar is indeed a job. I used to work for one.

TarkaTheOtter Wed 29-Apr-15 07:51:43

You do live abroad. Council tax has nothing to do with being resident in the UK. It just means you have a property here that no one else is living in. Just because they discovered you were living abroad by virtue of the council tax register doesn't mean you are now resident in the UK because they wouldn't be able to discover it the same way now.

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