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Dear Friends,

Did you know this is the first UK General Election where people can register to vote online? The Electoral Commission hopes that the new online process will encourage more UK nationals living overseas to register to take part in elections from overseas. Estimates show that there may be as many as 5.5 million UK nationals living overseas, but there are fewer than 20,000 currently on the electoral registers.

To register as an overseas voter, UK residents overseas must have previously been registered in a UK constituency within the last fifteen years. Alex Robertson, Director of Communications at the Electoral Commission, is urging UK nationals who are now living abroad to take five minutes to visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and make sure they will be able to have their say at the General Election in May.

As the Cabinet Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office are supporting the Electoral Commission’s campaign to raise awareness of voter registration among British residents overseas in the run up to the general election, I am forwarding you this information and encouraging you to share this with your British members and colleagues.

10 things you need to know about registering as an overseas voter

1. British nationals who have been registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years can register as an overseas elector

2. You can register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. This means that it is easier than before to register from wherever you are.

3. If you’re not registered you can’t vote at the General Election in May 2015.

4. Approximately 5.5 million British nationals live overseas. But there are currently fewer than 20,000 people registered as overseas electors.

5. The registration deadline for the 2015 UK Parliamentary General Election is Monday 20 April 2015. But remember to register as far in advance of this as you can.

6. You can choose how you wish to vote. You can vote by post, by proxy or even in person at your polling station.

7. If you don’t want to register online, you can still download paper forms. But remember to return your completed form as far in advance of the deadline as possible.

8. Overseas Voter Registration is open and you can register anytime – take five minutes to visit the online registration site and let others know too!

9. Lots of people who live overseas might not even know that they may be able to take part. Pass the message on!

10. Your vote matters! #passthemessageon #expat #yourvotematters

Susan Truscott, Vice Consul
British Consulate General - Houston