The latest date in which an EU citizen can submit a European Parliament Voter Registration Form (known as a UC1 form) to register as an elector in the European Parliamentary elections is 12 working days before the date of the election. For the recent European Parliamentary elections that deadline was 7th May. The 12 working day deadline is based on two provisions relating to the application process and the publication of, and alterations to, the register before the election. The provisions are contained in section 13B of the Representation of the People Act 1983 and regulation 29 of the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001; and the equivalent provisions in the Representation of the People (Scotland) Regulations 2001 and Representation of the People (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2008 as applied by Schedule 001 of the European Parliamentary Elections (Franchise of Relevant Citizens of the Union) Regulations 2001. To change the 12 working day deadline would require changes to the legislation.
The UC1 form implements a requirement under EU law. EU Council Directive 93/109/EC requires all Member States to send the details of any EU citizens’ declarations to the state they are a citizen of “sufficiently in advance of polling day” to ensure an EU citizen does not vote twice in the same European Parliamentary election. This is not a new requirement and has been in place for previous European Parliamentary elections.
On 5 April the Electoral Commission published guidance for Local Returning Officers and EROs on the upcoming European Parliament elections. In this the Electoral Commission reminded EROs to prepare and issue UC1 forms to EU citizens on the electoral register. It also encouraged EROs to agree plans and timings for postal vote despatch (including how to prioritise the despatch of overseas votes). This latter point covers UK citizens living in EU countries.
On 3 May the Electoral Commission published guidance advising EU citizens to avoid registering to vote using unofficial registration sites. In this guidance, they further stated that “any EU citizen who wants to vote in the European Parliamentary election in the UK must also print, complete and return a declaration form stating that they will only vote in the UK.” This guidance also included a link to the Your Vote Matters website where the form could be downloaded.