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It has been announced that the United Kingdom will go to the polls again this December, with the vote taking place on Thursday December 12. The 2019 General Election is set to be an important one for the UK's future. Whilst Brexit looks to be the headline issue, other topics that will be a factor include the NHS, public services and climate change. Many Americans living in the UK will have opinions on all of these matters, and for US citizens residing here long term, many of the issues will have an impact on them. Yesterday in the House of Lords, the Liberal Democrat Peer, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, noted that "Irish and Commonwealth citizens resident in this country have the vote, while American and EU citizens who are long-term residents do not. These are important issues that we need to address".
But what are the rules on voting eligibility?
According to the UK Government, to vote in a General Election you must:
★ be registered to vote
★ be 18 or over on the day of the election (‘polling day’)
★ be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen
★ be resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years)
★ not be legally excluded from voting
This means that unfortunately, if you are a US Citizen residing in the UK through a visa, you are ineligible to vote. However, if you are a US Citizen with dual UK nationality and are resident in the UK, you are eligible to vote. Similarly, you should be eligible to vote if you have a dual Irish Citizenship, or are a dual citizen with a qualifying Commonwealth nation.
If you have British citizenship but reside in the USA, you must have been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years to be eligible to vote in the upcoming 2019 General Election. You can find more details on eligibility and procedures for Overseas Voters at the Electoral Commission's website.
If you have any doubts, or want to understand your eligibility to vote, you can contact your local electoral office. Full details on electoral offices across the UK are available via www.gov.uk/get-on-electoral-register.
For more information on voting eligiblity and processes, go to www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter