Votes for Expat Brits
   Home      Council of Europe - Resolution 1459 (2005)
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe, of which the UK is a member state,
summed up its position in Resolution 1459 (2005)
on the abolition of restrictions on the right to vote.
The text as adopted by the Assembly on 24 June 2005 can be consulted here. Its principal recommendations are:
Electoral rights are the basis of democratic legitimacy and representativeness of the political process. They should,
therefore, evolve to follow the progress of modern societies
towards ever more inclusive democracy.

It therefore invites the member and observer states of
the Organisation to reconsider all existing restrictions
to electoral rights, and to abolish all those that are no
longer necessary and proportionate in pursuit of a
legitimate aim.

The Assembly considers that, as a rule, priority should be
given to granting effective, free and equal electoral rights
to the highest possible number of citizens. Due regard
should be given to the voting rights of citizens living
In line with the case-law of the European Court of Human
Rights, any exceptions to this rule must be prescribed by
law, pursue a legitimate aim and not be arbitrary or disproportionate.

The right to vote and stand as a candidate in national
election(parliamentary or presidential) should generally be
attached to nationality. Persons having several nationalities
should be allowed to choose freely in which country they
wish to exercise their right to vote.

Given the importance of the right to vote in a democratic society,
the member countries of the Council of Europe should enable
their citizens living abroad to vote during national elections.
They should take appropriate measures to facilitate the exercise of such voting rights as much as possible, in particular by considering absentee (postal), consular or e-voting.
Member states should co-operate with one another for this purpose and refrain from placing unnecessary obstacles in the path of the effective exercise of the voting rights of foreign nationals residing
on their territories.

National parliaments should reconsider existing restrictions
and determine whether they still pursue a legitimate aimand
are not arbitrary or disproportionate.

The Assembly therefore invites the Council of Europe member and observer states concerned to grant electoral rights to all their citizen(nationals), without imposing residency requirements; [to] facilitate
the exercise of expatriates’ electoral rights by providing for absentee voting procedures (postal and/or consular voting) and considering
the introduction of e-voting.