British citizens living abroad retain strong links with the United Kingdom: they may have family here, and they may plan to return here in the future. Equally, there are many British citizens abroad who have fought for our country, dedicating their lives to our armed services. Their stake in our country must be respected. This Government will not deny them the opportunity to have their say in the way their country is governed. That is why we are committed to introducing votes for life for British citizens living abroad.
The Government estimates that a further 3 million British citizens resident overseas will be enfranchised under the ‘votes for life’ proposals set out in the policy statement published on 7 October 2016. The Government has made initial estimates of how many newly enfranchised overseas electors may register to vote, and will continue to further refine its estimates in light of new data as it becomes available.
The Government acknowledges that initial applications to register to vote from newly enfranchised overseas electors are likely to take longer to process than most other applications. This increase in staff time has been built into the Government’s estimates of the expected costs of this policy measure. The Government is currently seeking feedback from electoral administrators and others on the detail of its proposals and will review them if measures to streamline processes are identified.
The Government is committed to legislating to remove the 15-year rule before the 2020 general election.