UK ex-pats intending to vote by post for May 7th elections

(49 Posts)

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LexLoofah Thu 09-Apr-15 16:50:53

Have you voted by post from overseas before? This is my first time and worried I won't be able to return it in time as I am told the cards are only being posted on the 20th and post to where I am can take 2 weeks or more so that might give me a week to complete and return, by courier I suppose to be sure.

I would have done a proxy but still not decided who to vote for and not sure who I would have nominated as a proxy anyway.

So I guess I had better be ready with my decision on the day it arrives!

OP’s posts: |
Mrsfrumble Thu 09-Apr-15 23:04:30

Hi Lexloofah (awesome name!). I live in the U.S. and have been wondering about this. I've heard from other expats here that the cards often don't arrive in time. At the same time I'm not sure about voting by proxy... I certainly wouldn't trust my mum not to vote for the other side on my behalf!

Is there anyone out there with experience of postal voting from overseas?

chloeb2002 Fri 10-Apr-15 03:00:50

I can safely say I'm far too out of touch with uk politics to vote wink

japaneseplum Fri 10-Apr-15 03:18:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Want2bSupermum Fri 10-Apr-15 03:29:29

I swear they leave it late to send out votes as expats are more likely to vote conservative plus the more proxy votes returned the more work for people back in the UK. I return mine via us mail using the express option.

It's my last year of being able to vote and I am quite sad about it. I'm still connected to the UK and not being able to vote feels very wrong. I think it's something that bothers me because my DC don't qualify for citizenship. It's a huge part of my identity.

nooka Fri 10-Apr-15 03:31:42

I don't really think it's right to vote as an expat who won't be affected by any of the decisions made in the UK, but then perhaps I'm not really an ex-pat as we don't plan to return. How does it work? Do you vote in the area you used to live in? Are their any requirements to prove a connection (eg do you still own a house etc)?

nooka Fri 10-Apr-15 03:32:19

We're not yet citizens where we live and I hate not being able to vote, feel very disenfranchised really.


Want2bSupermum Fri 10-Apr-15 03:47:09

nooka I think living abroad has given me an opportunity to see things from a different perspective and I think I'm a more informed voter for it. Having seen the Americanization of the UK I am very prepared to vote against the status quo. I am looking closely at all candidates standing in my area, I will probably go with an independent.

Your voting area is determined by where you were last registered. Labour changed the rules during their reign to limit your ability to vote to the first 15 years out of the country. It's disgusting it passed and the Tories ought to be ashamed of themselves for not pushing for the rule to be reversed.

I went to school with a couple of girls who parents were major backers of the UKIP in the 90s. It was a very different party back then and ironically most of the backers had lived abroad and owned assets abroad for huge stretches of time. The UKIP today basically has nothing in common compared to the party it was intended to be.

Mrsfrumble Fri 10-Apr-15 05:08:08

We're moving back to the UK next year, so will most definitely be affected by the result of the election!

Like want2b, living in the US has provided me with an insight towards where things might be headed for the UK, and it's made me feel more engaged with this election and its outcome rather than less.

nooka Fri 10-Apr-15 05:14:29

15 years seems more than reasonable to me to be honest. I've only been gone for eight years and while I am still very interested in politics back home it's pretty remote to my life now. I could vote for a party that might screw up the country but it would have zero effect on me. I don't pay taxes or need services, why should I have a say about either?

lunar1 Fri 10-Apr-15 07:06:49

15 years is a hell of a long time to have a vote in a country you don't live in!

LexLoofah Fri 10-Apr-15 14:49:56

ah but you might still have property there or have shares in UK companies or other investment exposure, if you have a balanced portfolio chances are you will have some UK exposure and therefore the effect may not be zero.

Also I still feel like those in the UK are my countrymen for want of a better phrase and especially my family I care about how they are affected by policies and the economy and I still follow the UK news closely.

We are moving back this summer so definitely very interested in voting. I am not entitled to vote where we live and it leaves one feeling rather impotent.

I agree it does seem deliberately late I mean surely they know who is standing by now?

OP’s posts: |
Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 23-Apr-15 02:03:24

DH and I have tried to arrange to vote but received an email from our local council this week stating that they won't send out the papers until the 29th April, don't expect them to be back in time and hence, despite us completing all necessary paperwork in a timely manner, our only option is to appoint a proxy each. As we don't have family where we used to live, we've basically been prevented from voting. I'm so angry about it. Other councils seem to have sent out papers just fine (I have friends who are expats who have them already) so why can't our council?! I've just emailed and asked them to explain why this is the case. Dont hold out much hope for a reply or a solution mind. It does make a mockery of the current campaign they have to try and get expats to vote though!

In case anyone's interested, this is what Richmond upon Thames had to say for themselves:

"I apologise for this inconvenience, due to election deadlines (the election has to be officially announced first and you would need to be on the electoral roll with a poll number) we would be unable to send you a postal vote pack any earlier than 29 April 2015 and Royal Mail guidelines are that a postal vote pack would need to be sent out by 13 April 2015 for it to get to you in the USA and back to us in time to be counted on election day, the best option would be for you to complete the enclosed application to appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf at election time, to ensure that your vote is counted."

LexLoofah Thu 23-Apr-15 16:05:32

wibbly that does not sound right about election having to be officially announced first as my constituency (Luton South) said they are sending April 20th as I think that is closing date for people entering to stand but if others have theirs already then they must just be making up the rules locally.

I do smell a rat though, you are right they made a big fuss about expats voting and now seem to be making it as difficult as possible in certain seats anyway.

OP’s posts: |
LexLoofah Mon 27-Apr-15 15:51:43

so just received an envelope from electoral services, thought it would be my ballot paper but no, just a letter confirming I am registered to vote by post, dated 23 March, it's not looking good is it?

OP’s posts: |
Wibblypiglikesbananas Tue 28-Apr-15 15:16:20

Well DH's polling card has arrived and mine hasn't! As our docs were all sent in together to register for postal voting, goodness knows what's going on!

LexLoofah Tue 28-Apr-15 15:28:04

wibbly it is mad isn't it? Can't believe they took up time & resources sending me a letter when they have my email address!

Ballot papers received this morning & duly completed with shaking hand hoping I am doing the right thing. Thankfully DH is flying to the UK tonight so he is under instructions to put them in the first post box he comes across.

OP’s posts: |
Wibblypiglikesbananas Wed 29-Apr-15 00:12:51

Lex - that's what we could do with - a personal courier service! Glad you managed to complete and will have them back in time. I emailed Richmond again and asked them if they could send my papers via a BFPO address at the embassy here. No reply... I could have them turned around in time if they used that route and I also posted them back via BFPO. I know it's not strictly what BFPO is for, but it could work. Randomly, my email correspondence with the council has always been answered on a Saturday, as though they wait until the weekend to catch up. Shambles, the lot of them!

LexLoofah Wed 29-Apr-15 14:48:42

wibbly that is a disgrace. I have emailed electoral commission to advise their ex-pat drive will be a spectacular failure - no reply, sigh.

As for the Saturday emails I expect it is so they can claim overtime

I hope you managed to get yours turned around in time

OP’s posts: |
EmilyAlice Thu 30-Apr-15 10:28:10

I am in Northern France about 50km from a Channel port and mine still haen't come. So Bank Holiday here tomorrow, Bank Holiday in the UK Monday, no chance!
Not good enough.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 30-Apr-15 13:45:39

Well, I just got a reply to my request to send the ballot paper via the embassy here. It was a really quite patronizing email that included a change of address form! I wrote back and said that wasn't quite the point, I was just trying to speed things up... So, on the advice of the electoral commission, I've asked for details of the council's monitoring officer, with a view to talking to the parliamentary ombudsman if I don't get a satisfactory answer.

Apparently my ballot paper is now on its way. I'm tempted to courier it back if it arrives in time and invoice the council for the fee.

meditrina Thu 30-Apr-15 13:59:37

They cannot finalise the ballot papers until the deadline for standing as a candidate has passed. It was 9 April this year. And although you don't need completely secure printing, it does need serial numbers and that makes it a bit slower. Then they actually need to marry up ballot papers with all postal voters and send them out.

29th seems very inefficient, as most councils seem to have windows of 21-28th. Which may not itself be long enough for international post.

When I lived abroad, I had a proxy, and that proxy then had a postal vote to 'my' constituency. That was a while ago, so I don't know if you can still do it. But although it sounds cumbersome, it worked fine.

LexLoofah Thu 30-Apr-15 15:05:28

Reply from the Electoral Commission:

The Electoral Commission has for some time recommended that the UK Government improve voting opportunities for overseas and other electors away on polling day. We welcome the changes to the election timetable for parliamentary elections passed by Parliament in the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013. The Act extends the timetable at parliamentary elections from 17 to 25 working days.

In addition, following the passage of the Act, the UK Government has introduced legislation to allow Returning Officers (ROs) to issue postal ballot papers and postal voting statements as soon as practicable after the close of nominations. This means that ROs can send out postal ballot papers to those electors registered for a long term postal vote as soon as the names of candidates have been included on ballot papers, which could be as soon as 19 working days before the poll.

I shall be responding to let them know the reality of overseas post, the number of days needs to be doubled at the very least or crack on with online voting

OP’s posts: |
Scholes34 Thu 30-Apr-15 20:01:48

The reality is that overseas voters should appoint a proxy/postal proxy if there are any concerns about the timing of receiving and returning ballot papers.

And as for Council employees saving up their work so they can send out e-mails at the weekend to claim overtime and deliberately delaying sending out postal vote packs to Conservative voters overseas, I think you'll find you're a little out of touch with how things are in the UK.

Mrsfrumble Thu 30-Apr-15 20:19:03

Postal proxy seems convoluted but is probably the best option. A proxy voter has to vote at the same polling station you would have according to your last UK address, and depending on how long ago you left the UK and what ties you had to the area it may be hard to find someone. ("You" being anyone in this position).

It's why I won't be voting this time; I didn't believe my ballot paper would reach me in time so applied to vote by proxy, then found out the few people who could have voted for me in person were not going to be in the borough themselves on Election Day. By then it was too late to apply for a postal proxy vote.

My own fault really for not being organized enough, but still annoying!

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