Up to quarter of Guernsey residents could vote in UK

UP TO a quarter of Guernsey’s population could be able to vote in UK elections in the future, under proposals put forward in this week’s UK Budget.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget. Picture date: Wednesday March 3, 2021.. (29299405)
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget. Picture date: Wednesday March 3, 2021.. (29299405)

Currently people who are British or eligible Irish citizens who have lived in the UK and were registered to vote before leaving the UK retain their right to vote in elections and referendums for up to 15 years after they leave.

Children who were too young to vote when they left the UK can also be allowed to later vote when they become adults, subject to certain conditions.

They need to register every year and can then vote by post or through a proxy.

But after 15 years that right is then lost.

Now the Conservative government is trying to change that.

Within the 106 pages of this week’s Budget is a note about overseas electors.

‘The government is providing an additional £2.5m. to remove the limit preventing British citizens who live overseas from voting after 15 years,’ it states.

This means a number of people living in the Bailiwick could retain or regain their right to vote in the British constituencies where they once lived.

More than 15,000 people in Guernsey list their country of birth as the UK or Ireland. If they satisfy the criteria, they could soon benefit from voting rights in the UK.

This might include voters having a verifiable National Insurance number or a current UK passport, as well as proof they were once connected to the address where they are registered.

It is understood that legislation will be laid before parliament later this year to bring about the change.

The House of Commons Library website stated that at the UK General Election of 2017 there were a record 285,000 registered overseas voters.

The UK government estimated that this was about 20% of eligible expats under the current 15-year limit.

The next UK election is set to be in May 2024.

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