Monday, 16 January 2012

British peer calls for abolition of time limit on expat voting

 

Britons who live abroad currently have no voting rights if they have been out of the country for more than 15 years An estimated 5.6 million Britons currently live abroad but, under UK law, those who have been out of the country for more than 15 years have no right to vote in British elections. There has been support for changes to the law in a recent debate on electoral reform in the House of Lords. The Telegraph reports this week on a comment from Lord Lexden, the Conservative Party’s official historian, that the time limit is, ‘a problem which has been allowed to go on for far too long.’ He proposed that the government’s plans to reform the electoral system could provide the ‘perfect vehicle’ to abolish a limit which he said has been ‘chopped and changed’ ‘without rationale.’ It was originally set at five years in 1985, was extended to 20 years in 1989, and was then reduced to 15 in 2002. Brian Cave from the website www.votes-for-expat-brits.com, which campaigns for the right to vote for Britons abroad, told the Telegraph, ‘To have Lord Lexden make such a long speech and make such telling comments was a milestone in our campaign.’ The newspaper however notes a comment by the Labour peer Lord Lipsey during a radio debate last month that there was, ‘no chance’ of the limit being abolished.

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