I have voted many more times in the UK than in my original country, Malaysia.
One thing always surprises me is the ease to vote in the UK. At the polling station, no one ever checked my identity and my eligibility to vote. In Malaysia, we all have to carry our identity cards, and our identity is always checked before voting.
Perhaps the voting system is more robust in the UK and voters are trusted. However, I often feel that without identity checks, fraud can easily happen. For example, apparently all Chinese (and Japanese and Korean) people look the same, what if my poll card was obtained by another small oriental squinted-eyed, dark-haired lady, who then voted in my name? (You can’t tell our difference, can you?)
I dutifully voted in the 2014 European and local elections last Thursday. As a Commonwealth citizen, I get to vote in all local, European and general elections. As a non-citizen, it’s my privilege and I treasure my right to vote.
I understand that European citizens or residents in the UK can’t vote in the UK general elections, but as a Commonwealth citizen I can. I was also called for jury service once. One of my British friends has always wanted to be summoned to jury duty, and she was very jealous of me when I was called to Winchester Crown Court three years ago. She stopped talking to me for a few days. As I have so many rights in this country, I don’t feel the need to become a British citizen. I don’t need a British passport either.
We are inundated with information about Europe and its impact on the UK. However I have never heard of any report on votes from Commonwealth citizens. How many Commonwealth citizens were eligible to vote in the UK in the election last week? How important were their votes?
I have just read that one million Commonwealth immigrants are eligible to vote in the next general election, and the campaign group Migration Watch UK is concerned. Sir Andrew Green, the group’s chairman, said the rules were an ‘anachronism’ from the days of Empire and should be scrapped.
I can understand the worry. Sky News reported that new immigrants from Commonwealth countries – including Canada, India, Pakistan and Australia – automatically get voting rights on arrival in the UK, even if some of them are only here for a few months to study.
What is your view? Do you think a non British passport-holder like me should have the right to vote?
I look forward to your views.