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Brits abroad: Investigation launched into postal voting ahead of 4 July general election

14:18 26/06/2024

New Europeans UK and Unlock Democracy have teamed up with the British Overseas Voters Forum for an investigation into how well the postal system performed for Britons abroad voting in the UK General Election on 4 July.

It comes after the chair of the British Overseas Voters Forum, Bruce Darrington, who lives in Bangkok, raised concerns about the reliability of the postal system in parts of Asia and other parts of the world.

After speaking to many of their members, he fears that a high number of postal votes will not reach the UK in time for the votes of many Britons living overseas to count in election. 

Darrington said: “We believe that the postal vote process is unlikely to give people, in many or most countries around the world, enough time to complete the ballot in order to get it back before the count takes place. 

Expat experience in Belgium

Brussels-based Briton Tim Reynolds, vice chair of the Brussels British Community Association (BBCA) is one national who will be returning to the UK to cast his vote, taking advantage of a meeting in London the day before.

He feels the voting experience for ‘expats’ outside the UK will be heavily dependent on their ‘home’ local authority. “The registration process seemed to be fairly straightforward,” he said, “but from various social media sources it seems many people around Europe have already received their ballot papers and returned postal votes, however I have yet to receive my polling card from Haringey.”

Reynolds also raised concerns about proxy voting. “My wife had hoped to nominate me as her proxy, but that was not possible as we do not have a UK address.” he explained.

“She had to register for a postal vote that I can either hand in at the polling station or at the electoral office in Haringey,” Reynolds added, pointing out that this required her postal voting package to arrive in Belgium before he headed to London. As she had registered for the postal vote relatively late, this was not guaranteed.

Appeal to Britons to respond to survey

Any difficulties faced by expat voters could serve as useful information for future elections. “For Britons abroad who are registered as a postal voter, we now want to use their experience as evidence of whether the postal vote works for the country where they live or work,” explained Darrington. 

“The intention of the investigation is to make sure any issues with the postal system are recorded in order to suggest changes for future elections, such as the involvement of embassies and consulates in distributing and returning ballots to the UK.

“The more people take part in the investigation, the better a picture we will be able to form of where the postal system works well and where it might be failing. Hence we urge all Britons living abroad to help us by spending a few minutes recording when they received and posted their vote, or whether they received their ballot too late to be able to return it in time.”

Director of Unlock Democracy and former Liberal Democrat MP, Tom Brake, said:  “At the moment, thousands of people could be putting their votes into post boxes around the world and thinking 'job done'. But in reality their vote could be arriving in the UK weeks after polls have closed and never be counted.”

Britons abroad can record their experience using the link here. The information will be shared between the three organisations carrying out the investigation: British Overseas Voters Forum, Unlock Democracy, and New Europeans UK.

Anyone who is unable to use the survey above, can email the following information to

  • First name
  • Surname
  • Country
  • Date Postal Vote (PV) Requested if known
  • Date PV Received
  • Date PV posted back
  • Local Authority which issued your PV
  • Polling district (this will be on your PV)
  • Polling number (this will be on your PV)

Photo: ©British Overseas Voter Forum Facebook page

Written by The Bulletin