British voters in the EU, at least those not disenfranchised by the 15-year rule, have been encouraged to register for a proxy vote due to the unreliability of postal votes in the UK.
Both in the 2016 referendum and the 2017 there were scores of reported cases of postal votes getting lost.
Now many local authorities are recommending to overseas voters that they seek a proxy vote. A proxy vote is when the voter nominates someone to attend the polling station and vote on their behalf, but it must be the polling station relevant to the last UK address they were registered to vote at.
In response to this concern a group of Remain activists have set up a proxy vote matching service on Facebook which works a bit like a dating site.
People requiring someone to be their proxy use the form on the groups page to register where the vote needs to be cast.
At the same time thousands of like minded Remain voters are registering to be proxies. These voters have to provide a reference so they can be vetted. The team behind the group use Geo mapping of postcodes to find the nearest match. Once the person is vetted an introduction is made and the pair “friend” each other to see if they can agree to work together. Should they fail then another match is sought.
The group which is less than three weeks old already has close to 3,000 people participating and will have reached its 300th match soon.
Nigel Grey, the groups founder said, “During the European Elections, two friends asked me to be their proxy, I was amazed at how easy the process was. When I heard of the anger amongst the expat community, that they were once again going to be disenfranchised the solution seemed obvious. I however never imagined it would take off as quickly as it has”.
To join the group, people are asked to visit the page https://www.facebook.com/RemainProxyVoters and click the sign up button. After that they just need to sit back and wait for a match to be emailed to them. They also join the group and can sit and watch the matches come through.
Grey said: “One Expat described watching the posts as like watching the National Lottery hoping that this time it was their number that were going to come up.”
Expats who are not on facebook, who still want someone to be a proxy are asked to use [email protected] or email [email protected] to find out more.
Note that voters in search of proxies are also being encouraged to contact the political party for whom they want to vote for in the constituency they are registered.