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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.

At future elections from May 2023, individuals who wish to vote in person at their polling station will be required to produce an acceptable form of photographic ID before receiving a ballot paper. This requirement will also include those acting as a proxy and voting in person on behalf of another elector at the polling station.

You will be required to produce an acceptable form of photographic ID for the following types of election or referenda:

  • UK Parliamentary by-elections
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections
  • Local Government elections (including Local Government Referenda)
  • Recall petitions
  • UK Parliamentary elections (General Election)

The requirement for voter ID to be provided at UK Parliamentary General Elections will take effect for polls taking place after the 5 October 2023.

Anonymous electors only

Registered anonymous electors, whose identity needs to be protected and preserved, will be able to apply for an Anonymous Elector’s document. The document will not contain any personal information that could be used to identify you but will contain your unique elector number that indicates you are eligible to vote in a particular election. We will be contacting all anonymous electors in January and February of 2023 to update you on the changes and the application process.

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.

If you do not have any of the accepted documents listed below, you can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate. Please see the next section for further details.

  • 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
  • national identity card issued by an EEA state
  • driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or 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

If you do not have one of the accepted forms of photographic ID, you will shortly be able to apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate (VAC). The Voter Authority Certificate cannot be used as proof of identity for any other purpose than for voting.

You will be able to apply online via the UK Governments website, by completing a paper application form/writing in or in person at your Local Electoral Registration Office. Please do not apply at this stage, we are unable to accept any applications or requests. The UK Government anticipates that the application stage will be available from January 2023. Once available, we will provide the online link and more details within this section.

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 rules, a proxy will be limited to voting on behalf of 2 people, regardless of their relationship. A proxy voter will also be able to act as a proxy for up to 4 people who are registered as UK voters who live overseas. 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 29 November 2022