We must keep our voting rights
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The threat to voting rights is one of the most undemocratic and shameful aspects of Brexit. Almost all EU citizens in the UK were disenfranchised in the most important vote of their lives in the 2016 referendum, and we may now face losing other rights that were left out of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiations.
Citizens of all EU member states currently have the same rights as UK citizens to vote or stand as a candidate at the local, municipal and European Parliament level. Not all EU27 citizens will be able to keep voting rights in the European Parliament elections after Brexit, depending on the franchise in their country of origin.
The 2019 European Parliament Elections may well have been the last time that all EU citizens were able to vote in the UK. It is not even certain that they will be able to vote at future local elections. This would be totally disenfranchising a large part of legal residents.
Instead of offering firm guarantees that local election voting rights will continue after Brexit, the UK government continues to use us as a bargaining chip in “bilateral arrangements” with the 27 other EU member states - so far, the only agreements are with Spain and Portugal. Citizens of the remaining countries will be able to participate in elections until December 2020 if there is a Withdrawal Agreement – beyond that, no assurances have been given.
We are campaigning for the UK government to confirm that no one will be deleted from the electoral roll as a result of Brexit, and to guarantee EU citizens the right to vote where we live, regardless of what other EU27 member states agree to.
We also believe a debate is needed on how decisions are made that affect everyone in this country. We support the extension of the franchise in general elections to all UK residents, and of UK citizens living abroad - please support our joint campaign with British In Europe and Another Europe is Possible to make the UK election system fairer.
What are we campaigning for?
The current situation
Broadly speaking, there are two ways to define who can vote in elections and referendums:
The citizenship principle, under which all citizens can vote. This is the norm in places like France and the United States.
The residency principle, under which anyone living in a place can vote, no matter where they were born. This was the case for the Scottish Independence referendum.
At the moment, the UK applies both of these principles, but neither consistently. Most citizens can vote, but not anyone who has been abroad for more than 15 years. Some residents can vote, but only those from Ireland and Commonwealth countries. EU citizens can vote, but only in local and European elections as a matter of EU law.
As a result of this, millions and millions of people are denied a vote in elections and referendums that directly affect their lives.
Our demand is for the UK to apply both principles consistently, and to grant the vote to all citizens of the UK and all residents of the UK.
Adopting either principle in full while abandoning the other would actively disenfranchise either some residents or some citizens, and pit Brits abroad against migrants living in the UK.
Neither of the demands we are making should be regarded as radical, and both are winnable. By bringing them together, we can make the campaign for both of them stronger.
You can support us by signing this petition and write to your MP: http://www.letusvote.org.uk/
For more detailed information:
bit.ly/t3m_BiE_AEIP_LetUsVote - the details of our position on voting rights
bit.ly/t3m_BiE_VotingRights - a joint briefing paper with British in Europe from October 2018.
Finally, our publications library page lists our campaigning and lobbying documents all the way back to 2016.