As part of its inquiry into voter engagement in the UK, the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee took evidence from the Electoral Commission on 3rd July.
Graham Allen MP, Chair of the Committee asked about the evidence that had been sent to the Committee from New Europeans in relation to European expat voters who were unable to vote in the European elections.
Jenny Watson, Chair, Electoral Commission confirmed that the issue was being looked at as part of the Electoral Commission's report into voting at the European elections.
Jenny Watson also stated that they would be looking at the case for abolishing the two stage registration process for European expat voters in European elections.
This was one of the key recommendations in New Europeans evidence to the Committee, together with a proposal that the declaration by EU expat voter to be signed at the polling station, stating that they are not voting in their home member state.
The other witnesses at the Committee hearing were:
- Phil Thompson, Research and Evaluation Manager, Electoral Commission
- Alex Robertson, Director of Communications, Electoral Commission
Since 1945, turnout for general elections in the UK has fallen from a high of 83.9% in 1950 to a low of 59.4% in 2001. Turnout for the 2010 general election was 65.1%—higher than the previous two general elections, but still the third lowest since the introduction of universal suffrage. Turnout at the last general election was also low compared with turnout at the last parliamentary elections in other European Union member states.
There is also evidence that a significant number of people in the UK are not registered to vote, with the most recent estimates indicating that the electoral register was between 85 and 87% complete. This would mean that approximately 6.5 million people are missing from the electoral register.
Graham Allen MP, Chair, raised New Europeans' evidence with the Electoral Commission at the hearing on 3 July
(See 1:08 into session for questions about EU expats, Overseas voters and New Europeans)