Votes for Life Bill Passed, end of Fifteen Year Rule

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Good news for the forgotten millions !

British citizens living abroad for more than 15 years have had their right to vote in UK general elections restored last night when the UK parliament passed a wide-ranging and controversial Elections Bill. This increases to an estimated 3.5 million the number of British citizens abroad who are now eligible to vote.

Says Jenny Shorten, Chair of LibDems in France, “This is an historic moment for the forgotten millions of Britons living abroad. Over 2 million are estimated to have been deprived of their vote just because of how long they’ve lived overseas. UK Government decisions affect Brits wherever they may live, so it’s right that we all have a say in who represents us”

Last minute attempts in the House of Lords to prevent the Electoral Commission’s independence from coming under attack and to insist on voter ID at polling stations in Britain were blocked by the governement in the Commons. Lib Dem Parliamentarians also proposed amendments to help improve the chances of postal votes getting back from abroad in time and to look at dedicated MPs for overseas voters. Sadly these were stopped in their tracks by the governments’ failure to allow enough time for debate on this controversial bill.

“Of course I’m delighted the 15 year rule has come to an end, but this was a missed opportunity to improve the representation of Britains living abroad”, added Jenny. “We’re going to keep fighting for these changes, particularly now so many more overseas voters will be eligble to vote.”

In the meantime, Liberal Democrats have appointed two peers in the House of Lords to take up issues affecting Britons abroad. Lord Stoneham and Baroness Miller can be contacted through Liberal Democrats Abroad at

What happens next?

The Elections Bill has established the principles of the new laws. Now there will be detailed work to put these into action (known as secondary legislation) and there’s a lot to do!

  • The new law gives eligible British citizens the right to vote regardless of how long they have lived overseas and this registration will last for 3 years.
  • For newly eligible voters, details of how and when they will be able to register will hopefully be available soon.
  • If you are already registered to vote, we strongly recommend you keep this up to date.
  • If you aren’t sure if you are currently registered, you can contact your local Electoral Registration Office to find out. Get their details here by entering the postcode of where you were last registered to vote in the UK.

Keeping up to date with the new system

  • LibDems in France are committed to providing updates about voter registration, and supporting Britons living abroad in claiming their right to vote.
  • As long as you are subscribed to this mailing list, you will receive these messages.
  • If you know anyone else who would like to sign up for these messages, please send them this link
  • If you have any queries about either the Elections Bill or your right to vote please email us at - we’re here to help!

And finally … help us to help you!

Thank you to those of you who have already completed our survey about your voting rights - this is really helpful in telling us what’s most important to people and how we can help them claim their right to vote.
We are still accepting responses, so if you haven’t completed the survey yet, please go to the link below and let us have your information about your right to vote.

Voting Rights Survey - click here

We are analysing the initial results and will share them with you shortly (anonymously of course!)

With thanks and best wishes from the team at
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Already added to this thread Jane!

And there is bad as well as good in the Bill.

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cross posted with this in a different topic

I tried this yesterday and got nowhere, other than connected to my previous council. Nothing about the electoral roll and nowhere to query it.
Good news in principle but I have my doubts whether we will get full democracy again.

I got an email in March from my old Ward saying I can no longer vote as I left the UK in 2016.

I’ve just replied asking to be put back on the register, we live in hope…!

Do you mean 2006?

YES!!! Typo and watching snooker :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:



From January 2024, there will be changes for British citizens living overseas. There will no longer be a 15 year limit on voting rights, and the registration period will change.

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Nice to see it in writing, finally.

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Still no change to the voter registration process yet:

If you live abroad

You can use this service to register to vote (or to renew or update your registration) if you both:

  • are a British citizen
  • were registered to vote within the last 15 years (or, in some cases, if you were too young to register when you were in the UK)

You may need your passport details.

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since the change does not take place until Jan 2024 (as notified by the EC) and the next GE is (at best) scheduled to be held no later than 24th January 2025 (assuming the current Parliament runs full term), that gives ~ 12 months for them to get the ducks lined up.
In the case of existing registrations, I can very much see that Electoral Service Officers will simply send out the requests as before (subject to changes in time periods) and could be transparent since they will already have validated voter ID.
But - we are talking of the UK of course - so anything could happen :wink:

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I first registered for a postal oversees vote in 2020. The last UK borough council where I lived and had registered sent me a reminder to re-register before my registration expires in May.

Please find attached your Renewal Reminder (Overseas).

If you have any questions regarding the attached documentation, contact us using the details below.

The signed official document attached featured my name and current address in France. I just used the link to go online and re-confirm. You need to remember your (old/last) UK post code but it doesn’t request your passport number. Swiftly done!

You do have the choice of receiving a voting form by post or email. I chose email given the vagaries of delivery I experienced last time. It did not say if the voting form may be returned online but on verra!

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Our Returning Office allows us to send the completed re-registration forms back by email but in the last at least two Elections, we have indicated/confirmed a proxy postal vote which has worked well for us.

We have always done proxy for a family member in UK, who then does a postal vote. Even a postal vote in France can be a bit tight as the form has to get to you, and then get back to UK in a short space of time.

For the 2016 referendum I went back to vote in person with OH’s proxy too - to important to miss. So Boris owes me a train ticket as well as everything else.


don’t hold your breath - you answer many CV questions which makes you valuable :slightly_smiling_face: