The Electoral Commission

The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

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Registering to vote now easier for those at risk

Published: 7 Mar 2018

A change to the law that will make it easier for people to register to vote anonymously without compromising their safety has been welcomed by the Electoral Commission.

To mark this important change coming into effect, the Commission has produced guidance for refuge managers with Women’s Aid and for local authority electoral registration officers and is supporting organisations, including the Royal College of Midwives who are producing guidance for their members.

Claire Bassett, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, said:

“Everyone should be able to vote safely, no matter what their circumstances, and these important changes are a vital step towards achieving this. From today many people will find it easier to register to vote, ending a situation which has seen too many people disenfranchised in the past.

“Nurses, midwives and refuge managers will now be able to attest to someone’s request to register anonymously; the guidance that has been produced will mean that those professionals will be able to explain how a vulnerable person can register to vote without compromising their safety, and have their say at electoral events.”

Anonymous voter registration is the process whereby someone can register without having their name or address disclosed publicly.

The new law makes it easier to register anonymously by:

  • Broadening the professionals able to provide an attestation to include nurses, midwives and refuge managers
  • Expanding the list of court orders to include Domestic Violence protection Orders and Female Genital Mutilation Orders
  • The changes come into force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland today and in Scotland on 1 April

Anyone looking to register to vote anonymously can find out more on the Commission’s Your Vote Matters website here.

Ends

For further information contact the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk Out of office hours 07789 920 414

Guidance for refuge managers in England produced jointly with Women’s Aid can be found here.
Guidance for local authority electoral registration offices can be found here (from page 112).

Notes to editors

1.Anonymous voter registration was introduced in Great Britain in 2006 through the Electoral Administration Act. This Act amended the Representation of the People Act 1983 and provided for the overall structure of the scheme.

2.Under previous legislation, people registering anonymously had to provide a specific court order or injunction prescribed in law or an attestation from a senior professional, such as a Police Superintendent or Director General of the Security Services or the National Crime Agency.

3.The difference between a standard and an anonymous registration is how these details then appear on the electoral register. An ‘N’ is used to signify that an entry relates to an anonymously registered voter and none of their personal details will appear on the electoral register, and their name will not be included on any registration forms sent to the household.

4.The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:

  • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
  • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
  • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

Journalist