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Electoral Register: Overseas Residence

Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of eligible overseas electors who are registered to vote. (317266)

The Government are keen to enhance registration rates generally, including among overseas electors. The Government have laid a statutory instrument in Parliament which extends the service voter declaration period from three to five years in respect of members of the armed forces, and their spouses or civil partners. This is intended to facilitate higher levels of registration among overseas service personnel.

The Electoral Commission promote awareness of UK electoral systems and electoral registration procedures including how to vote, and has conducted a series of promotional campaigns aimed at enhancing the registration rates among overseas electors more generally. The latest campaign ran in autumn 2009. I understand that it included online advertising using websites popular with British citizens living abroad and the distribution of information via British consulates and embassies. The campaign resulted in almost 25,000 visits to the overseas voters page of the Commission's About My Vote website. More than 7,000 overseas voter registration forms were downloaded from the site during the campaign.

The Commission will also target British citizens living abroad as part of its campaign ahead of a UK parliamentary general election. The campaign will encourage people to register to vote and also make them aware of the absent voting options available to them.