Political Rights 

#OurHomeOurVote

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Can EU citizens vote?

 

It depends….

Firstly - which election you want to vote in:

Westminster election: EU citizens without British citizenship cannot vote for Members of the UK Parliament. The exceptions are EU citizens from Ireland, and from Malta and Cyprus as Commonwealth citizens have the right to vote in General Elections (see www.gov.uk/elections-in-the-uk). 

Other elections: However, there are other elections which all EU citizens can take part in.

If you live in Wales or Scotland, EU citizens can vote in the Senedd or Holyrood elections and any other local election. Wales and Scotland have residence-based voting rights which means that anyone with leave to enter or remain in the UK can take part in elections.

If you live in England or Northern Ireland, your ability to vote in local elections will depend on your status in the UK and whether you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

 

Secondly - whether you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement:

 

The Government has recently proposed a policy position that EU citizens covered by the EU Withdrawal Agreement (i.e. those EU citizens with pre-settled and settled status) will have the right to vote in local elections in England and Northern Ireland.

EU citizens resident in Wales or Scotland are not affected by this rule as all residents with leave to enter or remain in these devolved nations have the right to vote.

What are the different elections:
 

  1. Westminster (UK Parliament)

  2. Holyrood (Scottish Parliament)

  3. Senedd (Welsh Parliament)

  4. Stormont (Northern Irish Assembly)

  5. Council Elections 

    • County

    • District

    • City

    • Borough

    • Town 

    • Parish

  6. Police and Crime Commissioners

  7. Mayor

  8. London Assembly

  9. Referendum

Find which elections happen where you live here:

https://www.gov.uk/elections-in-the-uk/local-mayors-mayor-of-london-and-london-assembly

Find your local councillors here:

https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-councillors

If there are elections happening in your area, you can find your candidates here:

https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/

What rights are we still asking for?

 

We welcome that EU citizens with pre-settled and settled status will continue having the right to vote in local elections in England and Northern Ireland. However, we want all UK residents to be able to have a say in how their local area is run. 

That’s why we campaign for England and Northern Ireland to adopt a residence-based voting rights system that would allow all EU citizens, including those who make the UK their home from 2021, and all residents to vote in local elections.

 

We want these rights so that we can:
 

  • have a say in choosing our local representatives such as councillors, mayors and police and crime commissioners
     

  • stand as candidates in local and regional elections, and be elected to represent and serve our local communities

If you believe in residence-based voting rights or want to learn more about our campaign, please visit the OurHomeOurVote landing page (https://www.ourhomeourvote.co.uk/)

You can also read our briefing paper at www.the3million.org.uk/residence-based-voting-rights.

 

If you are a councillor and want to make a statement about the Elections Bill in your area, consider passing our model council motion in your local authority (you can find it here).

Follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter to be kept up to date with the campaign and how you can participate.

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Why do voting rights matter?

  • As members of our local community, we have a stake in how those communities are run. This is not just about potholes and bin collections, but about so much more: our schools, our playgrounds and parks, our green spaces, parking policies in our local villages and towns, road and safety improvements, policing - to name just a few.
     

The bit that excites me most is what role this will play for Hackney. When I win, Hackney wins, and what I mean by that is that ultimately the stereotype of young people isn’t great generally – but from Hackney let’s be honest, growing up there were never any good news stories about my generation. It’s a win for all of us and shows we all have talent and we all have a role to play in shaping society.

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How can voting rights be expanded?

The simplest, fairest and most democratic voting system would be for all residents to have a say in local matters
 

Wales and Scotland have already set the precedent for this, in both cases by a required two-thirds super majority.
 

  • In November 2019, the Welsh Government passed a bill to extend voting and candidacy rights to all foreign nationals with leave to remain. This applies to local government elections in Wales, and also to the Senedd Cymru / Welsh Parliament itself.

    The Equality Impact Assessment accompanying the bill stated:

    “Enfranchising all resident foreign citizens legally resident in Wales [...] will help to make clear to those individuals that they are settled, respected members of communities who are able to exercise their democratic responsibilities.”
     

  • In February 2020, the Scottish Government passed a bill, to extend voting rights to all foreign nationals with leave to remain, including all those granted refugee status. It also extends candidacy rights to foreign nationals with indefinite leave to remain, and to those with pre-settled status. These rights apply not only to local government elections in Scotland, but also to the Scottish Parliament itself.

    The Equality Impact Assessment stated:

    “The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be a country where every individual who has chosen to live here is equally valued, no matter where they were born.”


 

We call on the UK Government to level up voting rights so that all UK residents can have a say on issues that matter to them in their communities.

The system already exists, and it works.

We need a UK-wide approach that gives everyone an equal say.

For more detailed information: