The Cyprus Pensioners Focus Group (CPFG) (an entirely voluntary organisation operating in Cyprus) and Cathi Delaney have worked tirelessly to improve the voting rights for all UK nationals living in Cyprus. UK Nationals who have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years have until now automatically lost the right to vote in UK elections. As a result of the work of CPFG, Cathi Delaney and others over many years the UK Government proposed new secondary legislation included in the Elections Act, which completed its passage through Parliament and gained Royal Assent on 28 April 2022.
The provisions in the Elections Act were delivered because of a Conservative manifesto promise to remove the 15-year time limit for UK Nationals resident outside of the UK. This will mean that UK nationals living overseas will be able to vote in UK Parliamentary Elections, so long as they have previously been registered to vote in UK elections or previously resident in the UK.
The Government is currently working on the secondary legislation which will create the processes that will enable those newly enfranchised to register to vote as well as to deliver additional improvements for overseas electors. This includes the processes relating to the verification of an applicant’s past UK address.
The current intention of the Government is that this new franchise will deliver votes for life ahead of the next General Election. It is hoped that the secondary legislation to deliver the overseas electors vright to vote will come into force in January 2024. Thereafter all overseas electors will be able to apply to register. The online Register to Vote service will be updated at the same point.
If you would like to know more about the Government’s intentions for this legislation, the details are set out in the policy paper, Overseas electors: Delivering ‘Votes for Life’ for British Expatriates, 3 February 2022: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/overseas-electors-delivering-votes-for-life-for-british-expatriates/overseas-electors-delivering-votes-for-life-for-british-expatriates