After over 20 years, many broken government manifesto promises, a European court decision and Brexit, British citizens living abroad have regained their right to vote in UK elections from today, January 16th.
The move will affect the estimated 400,000 UK citizens in Spain amongst the 3.5 million Britons who live abroad.
The end of the 15-year rule by which UK citizens were disenfranchised after more than 15 years living overseas could make all the difference for the next UK general election, expected later this year.
At the last general election in 2019 there were 233,000 overseas votes cast.
The change in the law brings the UK in line with other major democracies which allow lifelong voting rights.
Jane Golding, Co-Chair of campaign group British in Europe, said, “This is a historic change after years of campaigning by ourselves and others to get the right to vote for all British citizens, regardless of where they live. The change means that all British citizens abroad will now have a constituency MP and someone to write and ask what they are going to do on the issues that they care about.”
British Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott said: “This law means that more British citizens living in Spain will now be eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary elections, which is good news.
We’re asking the British community here to help us spread the word, because it’s important that eligible people are made aware of the changes so that they can register and cast a ballot when the time comes.”
Supporting the awareness raising campaign of the UK’s Electoral Commission, the British Embassy in Madrid is calling on British residents living in Spain to check if they are eligible.
The Commission is the independent and impartial organisation that oversees elections in the UK.
Voters interested in having their say in parliamentary elections can register at the last constituency in which they were registered or where they have lived if they were not registered before.
To check if you are able to vote: www.electoralcommission.org.uk.
Or register as an overseas voter: www.gov.uk/voting-when-abroad
Overseas declarations are valid for 3 years and will need to be updated every 3 years.