Absent Voting: British Nationals Abroad

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 4th November 2019.

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Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (International Development)

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment the Cabinet Office has made of the effect of the snap parliamentary general election on the ability of UK nationals living overseas who have postal votes to vote in that election.

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (International Development)

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has plans to bring forward legislative proposals to enable British citizens living overseas who have postal votes to (a) receive postal vote packs by email and (b) vote online.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip

The Government recognises the importance of a smooth and timely process for overseas electors in regards to the 12 December General Election, and has taken steps to ensure that postal votes reach overseas electors in good time to cast their vote.

The timetable for UK elections was revised in 2013 to extend the time available for postal vote packs to be printed, posted and returned. We are also working with Royal Mail to set up a dedicated scheme for Returning Officers to use to expedite the delivery of postal votes to overseas electors. If an elector is concerned that their local postal services are irregular or if they live far from the UK, we advise that they consider voting by proxy as an alternative to a postal vote.

The Government has no plans to bring forward legislative proposals to enable British citizens living overseas who have postal votes to receive postal vote packs by email or vote online. The selection of elected representatives for Parliament is regarded as requiring the highest possible level of integrity and, at present, there are concerns that online voting, by any means, is not seen by many to be suitably rigorous and secure, and could be vulnerable to attack or fraud.

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