Skip to main contentAccessibility Statement

Elections Act 2022

The UK Government is making significant changes to the current UK electoral system. The Elections Act contains a number of measures that will affect the way we vote and conduct future elections.

The government plans to make details available over the course of 2023. Here, we provide electors with a brief overview of the forthcoming changes and an indication of the implementation.

From 4 May 2023, voters in England will need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations in some elections.

This will apply to:

  • Local elections
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections
  • UK parliamentary by-elections
  • Recall petitions

From October 2023 it will also apply to UK General elections. Please note, West Northamptonshire Council are not scheduled to hold any elections in May 2023 when these changes take effect.

If you don't have accepted photo ID, you can apply for a free voter ID document, which is known as a Voter Authority Certificate. The full list of acceptable photo ID is in the next section below. Please check this list first, before applying for a Voter Authority Certificate, you may already hold an acceptable form of ID to vote.

Information you will need to provide and providing a photograph

You will need to submit a photo with your application. The requirements for the photo are similar to the requirements for a passport photo. Further information and guidance will be available when you access the portal. If you need help taking a photo, then your Electoral Registration Officer will be able to do this for you (see below contact details).

  • When applying for a Voter Authority Certificate, you will need to provide your:
    • name
    • address
    • date of birth
    • National Insurance number. You can still apply if you don’t know your National Insurance number, or don’t have one. However, you will need to provide other forms of proof of identity, such as a birth certificate, bank statement and a utility bill. We will contact you to arrange this but this will make the application process longer
  • You will need to be a registered elector before applying for a Voter Authority Certificate. If you are not yet registered, you can register by visiting register to vote. You can also apply for the Voter Authority Certificate at the same time as registering.

    If after viewing the acceptable list of photographic ID in the section below, you believe you require a Voter Authority Certificate, you can apply using one the methods below:

How to apply for the Voter Authority Certificate

Apply online

To apply online, please visit Voter Authority Certificate.

Apply by post or in person

You will also be able to apply by filling out a paper application form and sending this to us. You can request the instructions in large print, braille or easy read.

You will also be able to apply in person, please contact the Elections Team on 0300 126 7000 to arrange an appointment.

If you need any help with applying for a Voter Authority Certificate or want to request a paper application form, contact the voter registration office on 0300 126 7000, email [email protected] or call the helpline on 0800 328 0280.

Below is a comprehensive list of accepted forms of photographic ID that may be used for voting in person at a polling station. You may use an expired form of any of the below documents as long as the image still holds a good resemblance to the holder.

All proof of identification documents must be original documents. Polling station staff will be unable to accept photocopies or electronic versions of any document(s). If you do not hold the original form, you should consider applying for the free Voter Authority Certificate.

Name changes

If your name on the electoral register is different to your proof of identification document, you will additionally need to bring to the polling station an original document that links your former name in your identification document to your current name on the electoral register. For example, a Marriage/Civil Partnership certificate, Change of Name Deed etc. 

  • Passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, a European Economic Area state (including all European Union member states), or a Commonwealth country
  • Driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an EEA state
  • National Identity card issued by an EEA state
  • Blue Badge
  • Biometric immigration document
  • Identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)
  • Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)
  • Older Person’s Bus Pass
  • Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
  • Oyster 60+ Card
  • Freedom Pass
  • Scottish National Entitlement Card issued in Scotland
  • 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
  • Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
  • Senior SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
  • Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person’s SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
  • War Disablement SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
  • 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
  • Half Fare SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
  • Electoral Identity Card issued in Northern Ireland
  • Voter Authority Certificate (see details on this webpage)
  • Anonymous Elector’s Document (see details on this webpage)

Anonymous electors and the Elections Act 

Registered anonymous electors, whose identity needs to be protected and preserved for their personal safety, will be able to apply for an Anonymous Elector’s Document (AED). The document will not contain any personal information that could be used to identify you. It will contain your unique elector number that indicates you are eligible to vote in a particular election. 

We are in the process of writing to all of registered anonymous electors at their home address with further information on the application process. We expect to have contacted all registered anonymous electors by the end of February 2023. Future anonymous elector registrations will incorporate the new requirements regarding voter identification into the application process.  

The Anonymous Elector’s Document is expected to be A4 in size, with appropriate security features. It will not display the elector’s name; the name will be replaced with the unique elector number.

Anonymous electors voting in person at a polling station

Anonymous electors wishing to vote in person at their polling station will need to apply for an Anonymous Elector’s Document (AED) and present this document at the polling station along with their anonymous poll card. 

The Anonymous Elector’s Document will be the only form of identification that an anonymous elector will be able to provide and use at the polling station. They will not be able to present any other form of identification, including documents from the accepted photographic identification list on these pages. This is because an anonymous elector’s name does not appear on the electoral register and therefore no other form of identification would prove your identity and eligibility to have a ballot paper issued. 

Anonymous electors will be required annually to reapply and renew their Anonymous Elector Document by providing a new photo as part of their annual declaration renewal. The Electoral Registration Officer will also issue a replacement document if the electoral register is renumbered. Anonymous electors will not need to reapply in cases where the register is renumbered.

Anonymous electors voting by post 

If you are a registered anonymous elector and you vote by post, you will not require the Anonymous Elector’s Document. However, you may wish to consider applying for the document should you subsequently cancel your postal vote arrangement.

Anonymous electors voting by proxy

Anonymous electors who have a proxy vote in place, where a trusted person votes on their behalf, are not required to hold an Anonymous Elector’s Document. However, you may still wish to consider applying for the document as you can still vote in person at the polling station, provided you do so before your proxy. 

If your proxy votes by post on your behalf, you will be unable to vote in person at the polling station. This is because your ballot paper will have been issued in advance to your proxy’s address.

The Elections Act will make it easier for people with disabilities to vote. New rules will mean that an elector with a disability can choose anyone over the age of 18 to accompany them in the polling station, to help them vote.

Further proposals will also cover greater support being made available in polling stations to electors with disabilities. It is anticipated that changes regarding accessibility will be in force from any elections held from May 2023.

The UK government is proposing a number of changes to absent voting. Absent voting refers to when an individual is unable to attend the polling station on election date and has either a postal vote arrangement or proxy to vote on their behalf.

Postal Vote applications will carry a maximum validity of 3 years (although you may apply for a postal vote for a particular election or for a shorter period of time than the 3-year limit). Once the 3-year period has elapsed, you will be required to make a fresh postal vote application should you wish to continue voting by post. The change to a 3-year application cycle will be transitional starting from January 2024. 

Applications for an absent vote will require voter identification and you will be able to apply online as well as on paper. 

Under the incoming new legislation, it is proposed that a proxy will be limited to voting on behalf of a maximum of 2 electors, regardless of their relationship to each other. In addition, the same proxy will be able to act as a proxy voter for a maximum of 2 registered overseas electors. This rule is expected to be in place after May 2023.

Currently, British citizens living outside of the UK may register as an overseas elector and vote at UK parliamentary elections for a maximum of 15 years from the date last registered in the UK. The registration period currently last one year and must be renewed annually.

The Elections Act will remove the 15-year limit, allowing British citizens living overseas voting rights for life. Additionally, the registration period will be increased from the current annual registration to a three yearly registration.

Please do not apply at this moment if you have lived outside of the UK for 15 years or more. The UK Government is yet to detail how such changes will work in practice and we will update our webpages when this information becomes available.

EU citizens will no longer be automatically entitled to register, vote and stand for election. However, currently two groups of EU citizens will retain their rights:

Group 1

‘Qualified EU citizens’ - Where a reciprocal agreement with an EU country is in place and the individual has leave, or do not require it, to remain in the UK. Currently, this is limited to Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain. 

Group 2

‘EU citizens with retained rights’ who were resident in the UK before 1 January 2021.

The Elections Act 2022 introduces a change in the voting system used to elect Police and Crime Commissioners. The system will change from the ‘supplementary voting system’ to ‘first past the post’.

The next scheduled election for the post of PFC Commissioner in Northamptonshire is expected to be in May 2024.

Further information

Read more about the incoming changes on the Electoral Commission website.

Last updated 09 February 2023