Postal vote chaos shows Brits abroad should 'vote in embassies', expert claims

Postal vote chaos shows Brits abroad should 'vote in embassies', expert claims
Georgia Pearce

By Georgia Pearce

Published: 02/07/2024

- 21:30

The Chair of The British Overseas Voters Forum has said expats who are still entitled to vote are still having problems with their postal votes.

Bruce Darrington has said he believes only half of postal votes sent abroad will be returned in time and called on a change to allow voting in Embassies around the world.

Speaking to GB News, Bruce Darrington said: “There are about 200,000 or 300,000 votes that are going overseas, and many of those have not arrived.

“As a result of the change in the electoral law allowing more British people overseas to vote, we estimate it will be around 450,000, a significant amount of voters.

“Let's say two thirds of those are choosing to have a postal vote, and another third are choosing to have a rather inadequate proxy system. There are about 200,000- 300,000 people who are supposed to get their votes overseas.

“Now, we have many members all over the world. Even in very developed countries like Japan, many postal votes arrived today. It’s absolutely impossible. Even if you could read them back using DHL or whatever, it's not going to work.

“So we've said all along, pretty much every developed country, or even less developed country, in the world, uses their embassies and their consulates to organise the overseas vote. It is very secure. You register with your embassy or consulate. They distribute the ballot papers, you send it back. They make sure, through their fast post system, that all the ballot papers reach the ballot box.

“It’s absolutely secure so that’s what we said when this legislation was announced that we really should have a secure and, 100% effective [system].

“I think the government saw it as a distraction on what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office do. So they just felt, no, let's, let's stick with the postal voting system.

“But we will see very strong evidence that probably only half the postal votes will have arrived and come back. So arriving is one thing but going back is another.

“What I think people don't realise is that after covid, the International postal system has sort of broken down and for many countries, you don't receive mail from the UK for a month, or a month and a half, or sometimes never.

“There are more people voting from overseas now, and so it's a more significant issue. And I think as we all know the postal system isn't so well used anywhere in the world because of the internet. So it's a growing problem, and probably in five years time, it'll be even worse.

“The UK can do its part but once the mail leaves our shores, it's in the hands of intermediaries and other postal systems and it just takes so long.

“Some constituencies have between one and 3000 overseas registered voters so that's going to be the majority in many seats.”


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