Florence has always been a very important town for the British community. Right up until a few years ago our oldest Embassy anywhere in the world was located here. The ties with the city, and indeed the entire Tuscany region, go back centuries and still today there is a sizeable expat community, as I have often witnessed during my visits to this beautiful city.
At the last UK General Election in 2015 more expats than ever registered to vote, approximately three times the number than in the previous election in 2010. While this is a real improvement it is probably only a fraction of the British expats living abroad today, and potentially eligible to vote in the EU referendum.
This means thousands of UK citizens living in Florence, and indeed across Italy, like you, could miss out on their chance to take part in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, because they don’t know they could be eligible to vote. That is why I am supporting the second ever Overseas Voter Registration Day, led by the UK Electoral Commission (follow #OVRD on twitter for tips and advice), in its efforts to let you know that many of you are eligible to vote and that it’s now easier than ever to take the first step by going online to register.
With the date of the referendum as yet unknown, I advise you to register sooner rather than later so you can be sure you are registered in time. You can already do so online in just a few minutes at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. In fact, thousands have already taken advantage of this opportunity and will have their say at the EU referendum.
If you can’t or don’t want to register online, you can still download and post back paper forms. But remember to return your completed form as far in advance of the deadline as possible. The actual deadlines for registering to vote and applying for an absent vote will be set once the date of the referendum is known. Once you’ve registered, you can choose how you wish to vote. You can vote by post, by proxy (voting by appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf), or even in person at your polling station.
Remember that Overseas Voter Registration Day (#OVRD) is also the perfect opportunity for you to encourage friends, family or colleagues to check if they can take part and ask them to go online to register from wherever they are in the world. Pass the message on that your vote matters! #PassItOn #UKexpat #YourVoteMatters
British Ambassador to Italy