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Old Jun 24th 2011, 3:22 pm   #1
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Smile Voting Rights

You'd think that within the European Union at least, where the treaties between member states grant to all European citizens the right to live and work in any of the member states, this would also include the right to vote in national elections. However, we can only participate in municipal and European elections where we reside - in my case France- but there is no such right for national elections. I also find that I cannot vote in national elections in the UK either, the law as it stands denying the right to vote after a period of 15 years as a non-resident.
Now resident in Spain, James Preston having just lost his right to vote due to the 15 year rule, is so incensed that at his own risk of covering the costs of up to £20,000 should he lose, he is currently challenging the British Government in the high courts in London over this ruling.
If you've been out of the UK since you were say 18 years old for 15 years or more you'd have lost your right to vote there from when you were 33.
Now that I am retired I seem to have more time to think about these things than when I was younger, with perhaps more important things to worry about then! However, I'm voicing my support of James Preston.
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Old Jun 24th 2011, 4:18 pm   #2
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Smile Re: Voting Rights

Just to clarify who James Preston actually is, he's not the American actor of the same name that you will find e.g. on Wikipedia.
The James Preston I'm talking about is a British expat living in Spain and you can find out more about his case in the high courts in London and further background on the whole issue of our voting rights by going to www.votes-for-expat-brits.com.
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Old Jun 25th 2011, 7:53 am   #3
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Smile Re: Voting Rights

It's strange but if you go to one of the past news stories on this website (britishexpats/news/latest/expats-general-election/), you'll find the British Electoral Commission before the last general election, telling us that there are more than 5 million British citizens living abroad but less than 13,000 overseas voters are on the electoral roll.
Perhaps we are just not interested in what happens back in the UK, despite the Internet and 24-hour rolling news channels keeping us in touch where ever we are around the world?
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Old Jul 18th 2011, 3:41 pm   #4
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Smile Re: Voting Rights

In response to comments from expat Brits visiting our website (http://www.votes-for-expat-brits.com ) we have now amended the home page to provide a more easily accessible and direct link (Sign up and show your support) to our on-line petition.
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Old Jul 23rd 2011, 8:09 am   #5
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Unhappy Re: Voting Rights

One major complaint of those responding to our on-line poll on British expatriate voting rights, particularly from Canada and Australia, is the fact that their UK state pensions are frozen with no indexation to inflation and they have no rights to show their dissatisfaction via the ballot box in UK general elections.
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Old Jul 23rd 2011, 1:17 pm   #6
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Default Re: Voting Rights

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Originally Posted by Rod_ph View Post
One major complaint of those responding to our on-line poll on British expatriate voting rights, particularly from Canada and Australia, is the fact that their UK state pensions are frozen with no indexation to inflation and they have no rights to show their dissatisfaction via the ballot box in UK general elections.
Thats not generally the case though, UK pensions are not frozen in most EU countries at the moment and continue to get indexation
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Old Jul 24th 2011, 8:31 am   #7
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Smile Re: Voting Rights

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Thats not generally the case though, UK pensions are not frozen in most EU countries at the moment and continue to get indexation
Thanks for your response , Mitzyboy. I think this is also the case for UK pensions in the USA through a bilateral agreement.
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Old Jul 24th 2011, 3:20 pm   #8
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Default Re: Voting Rights

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Thats not generally the case though, UK pensions are not frozen in most EU countries at the moment and continue to get indexation
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Originally Posted by Rod_ph View Post
Thanks for your response , Mitzyboy. I think this is also the case for UK pensions in the USA through a bilateral agreement.
funny that pensioners living in these "old commonwealth" countries don't get indexation - is it their fault or ours ??
presumably their expats don't get the indexation either ??
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Old Jul 24th 2011, 4:22 pm   #9
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Default Re: Voting Rights

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funny that pensioners living in these "old commonwealth" countries don't get indexation - is it their fault or ours ??
presumably their expats don't get the indexation either ??
Yes, without a bilateral agreement such as exists between the UK and the USA, I think the expats from these "old Commomwealth" countries wouldn't I expect get the indexation either if they were living in the UK. It's probably something to do with the much greater numbers of expatriate British retiring in Australia or Canada compared with their counterparts from these countries retiring in the UK, which would imply a special agreement with the USA. US expatriates are taxed on their worldwide income where ever they are resident but they retain the right to vote in their national elections (unlike the British).
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Old Jul 24th 2011, 6:21 pm   #10
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Yes, without a bilateral agreement such as exists between the UK and the USA, I think the expats from these "old Commomwealth" countries wouldn't I expect get the indexation either if they were living in the UK. It's probably something to do with the much greater numbers of expatriate British retiring in Australia or Canada compared with their counterparts from these countries retiring in the UK, which would imply a special agreement with the USA. US expatriates are taxed on their worldwide income where ever they are resident but they retain the right to vote in their national elections (unlike the British).
Sorry Rod
by your postings I had assumed you were knowledgable on these matters.

the uk has bi-lateral agreements with other countries other than US and EU so what is the situation there.

as to votes - which as we know can be bought, most people will vote for one of two situations
a) their local (i.e. Spanish\French\German etc) environment
b) their old UK environment

Having been born in Hertfordshire, I have no feelings for that county leaving in 1963 to join the Royal Navy. I feel more at home with my current East Anglian county having lived here since 1974. However, with my OH living in Granada, Andalusia, for the past 2 years I find daily I have more affinity to what is happening in Spain, Andalusia and Granada than I do in my current abode. It is history, past and gone whereas Granada is my future....

How will you get people to vote in the UK elections ?? With difficulty, as in the Uk voting (unlike Australia) is not a legal requirement. Why do you think we have such difficulty in getting a government - and it will get worse and voters come to the conclusion their vote is actually worthless - whether they live in Runcorn, Ruislip or Cadiz. It is exceedingly rare for a foreign postal vote to change the course of an election (in fact has it ever happened?). Remember, servicemen who bother to get a postal vote know their vote is unlikely to topple anyone, letalone change the course of history.

rgds
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Old Jul 24th 2011, 8:45 pm   #11
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Smile Re: Voting Rights

Thanks for your feedback Domino. Indeed, I'm no expert on these state pension matters but have been out of the country since 1978, originally from Cambridge but now retired and living in France (with an indexed pension!) and have not voted since leaving the UK although being aware of being able to vote in local and European elections in France. With modern communications it's possible to follow what's going on in the UK and as I do not have French citizenship I feel more affinity with the UK than France. Although I accept that being able to vote does not necessarily make a difference, it seems odd that I have lost the right to vote in my home country when I still pay taxes on a property, bank accounts and share dividends we own there and that I live within a European Union based on the free movement of goods, services and labour within it. My learning curve on these matters is quite steep having been asked to set up and administer the website www.votes-for-expat-brits.com and I appreciate the feedback from people like yourself who are taking the trouble to respond and develop the debate on the question of British expatriate voting rights.
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Old Jul 24th 2011, 11:24 pm   #12
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Default Re: Voting Rights

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Thanks for your feedback Domino. Indeed, I'm no expert on these state pension matters but have been out of the country since 1978, originally from Cambridge but now retired and living in France (with an indexed pension!) and have not voted since leaving the UK although being aware of being able to vote in local and European elections in France. With modern communications it's possible to follow what's going on in the UK and as I do not have French citizenship I feel more affinity with the UK than France. Although I accept that being able to vote does not necessarily make a difference, it seems odd that I have lost the right to vote in my home country when I still pay taxes on a property, bank accounts and share dividends we own there and that I live within a European Union based on the free movement of goods, services and labour within it. My learning curve on these matters is quite steep having been asked to set up and administer the website www.votes-for-expat-brits.com and I appreciate the feedback from people like yourself who are taking the trouble to respond and develop the debate on the question of British expatriate voting rights.
Rod, may i suggest you raise the matter with an MEP ??

when our representatives in the Mother of Parliaments are voted in by obtaining 33% of a 45% turnout, then either alot of people are on holiday or there is just general apathy. The vote was hard fought for by men and women who gave up their lives for it, but over a short period of time it has become a wasted moment. If it actually became of some use then perhaps more people would use it.
as was demonstrated by the poll tax fiasco, people will not register to vote because they are more worried about the state using their registration against them - mind you, some do have a reason to not want to be found.

if i lose the right to vote because I have changed my domicile then quite honestly it won't change my life decisions. But see me in 10 years time and things may be different.

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Old Jul 25th 2011, 8:20 am   #13
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Default Re: Voting Rights

Hello Domino,
Actually the matter of British expatriate voting rights has been raised with visiting MEPs and MPs who have all made the right supportive sounding responses but so far with no discernible effect back in London. Your example of the Poll Tax getting people out to vote is a good one and I think the turnout for the Alternative Vote referendum wasn't bad. However, the generally low voter turnout is used by some of those expatriates feeling deprived of the right to vote to ask why when they are motivated to vote, they are not allowed?
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Old Jul 25th 2011, 9:31 am   #14
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Default Re: Voting Rights

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Hello Domino,
Actually the matter of British expatriate voting rights has been raised with visiting MEPs and MPs who have all made the right supportive sounding responses but so far with no discernible effect back in London. Your example of the Poll Tax getting people out to vote is a good one and I think the turnout for the Alternative Vote referendum wasn't bad. However, the generally low voter turnout is used by some of those expatriates feeling deprived of the right to vote to ask why when they are motivated to vote, they are not allowed?
Rod
not sure if I put that right or not
but when it came to Poll Tax (as we know a tax against person rather than property) people didn't put their names down on the annual voter registration so that there were ISTR over 2million people who went "missing". This was because they felt it was another document listing them for government purposes which could be used to make them pay the poll tax. Despite protestations that there is a Chinese Wall around the voting records, how can that be true when councils are selling the information to private companies...
I believe many of the missing millions have still not surfaced - well its one way of ensuring you don't get junk mail..

I don't see the AV voting turnout as being a success, all it did was make each of the camps say they won a moral victory. I could never see AV working, like it or not but FPTP is part of life in so many ways. Imagine explaining to your child who broke the tape that they only came second because the winner acquired the points of 2 other runners...

having spent time in the RN I lost my affinity for my home town and its political needs. I never felt a need to vote in any elections, postal or otherwise. Why should expats, who want to sever their taxation ties etc etc with the Uk to take advantage of their new home country want to vote in an election for a person they have never met, will never meet, have no idea of their true politics. Its just a vote for the Red, Blue etc and has nothing to do with their needs from the politicians.
Methinks there are too many crocodile tears in this - better to take part in local politics and get the pavement fixed you are walking on rather than the pavement you will never walk on.
rgds
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Old Jul 25th 2011, 1:25 pm   #15
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Smile Re: Voting Rights

Hello Domino,
I like your last sentence about crocodile tears etc. which I think sums up very well the pragmatic position you have adopted based on your past experience. My memory of the Poll Tax didn't extend to the fact of many missing voters and why and so your comments overall provide interesting input from an expatriate also with experience of life in the Royal Navy and having no particular political allegiance (I think).
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