Following Theresa May’s snap announcement of her intention to seek an early General Election, UK citizens currently in Argentina may be wondering where this leaves them in terms of being able to vote. Thankfully, British citizens have the right to vote overseas within 15 years of leaving the UK, so unless you’ve really left for good you’ll be able to cast your ballot this June.
As far as voting from abroad goes, there are two options. Voters can either opt for a postal vote or nominate a proxy to vote on their behalf. If you’re not already registered to vote, you need to do that first, and this part can be done online. Forms must be returned to the Electoral Registration Office that’s local to your UK address (or former one). Some Offices may allow you to return forms online; to check this, contact the corresponding Office directly. You can check the address and contact details of your Office here.
If you’re living in Argentina permanently but were registered to vote in the UK at some point in the last 15 years, you can register using the ‘British citizen living overseas’ option on the online form, and your vote will be counted in the UK constituency where you were last registered.
Once you’re on the electoral register, the first option as an absentee is to vote by post. In England, Scotland and Wales any elector can choose vote by post, and you can register to do so permanently for every election, for a specific period or just once. For Northern Ireland there’s a separate form and you’ll have to provide a reason why you need to vote by post.
In order to register you’ll need to download and print the postal vote form, fill it out and return it by post to the Electoral Registration Office. Officially, your form needs to reach the office by 5pm, 11 working days before the election. Bear in mind, however, that your ballot paper will be sent to you by post, so you also need to account for this and for the time it’ll take you to send it back again by the close of the polls on the 8th of June, meaning the process involves three postal journeys between Argentina and the UK. In short, don’t delay, or you could receive your ballot paper just in time to watch the results come in.
If you prefer to vote by proxy, you’ll need to nominate someone you trust to vote on your behalf. Your proxy must also be registered and eligible to vote in the same type of election. Proxies can cast the vote of up to two other electors who are not related to them; for immediate family members the number is unlimited. To vote by proxy you need to fill out the appropriate form and, once again, return it to your Electoral Registration Office, where it must arrive by 5pm 6 working days before an election.
Given that both options rely on international post, and polling day is less than two months away, Brits in Argentina are advised not to delay getting started with the registration process.