Discuss THE "SERVICE VOTING" STICKY (2005-2009) in Current Affairs, News and Analysis on The Army Rumour Service; OK, time to start looking ahead to the actual election process, although at this moment our main 'campaign' focus is still on Electoral Registration.
[b]As now mentioned several times on this website, we hope and ...
OK, time to start looking ahead to the actual election process, although at this moment our main 'campaign' focus is still on Electoral Registration.
[b]As now mentioned several times on this website, we hope and trust the Chain of Command at all levels will do a lot more than the procedures below to raise voter awareness during the election.
And make it easier for our people to get their votes in - IN TIME. Making sure every voter in theatre gets the chance to phone or email their 'proxy'. Making sure BFPO postal arrangements are running at max speed and reliability. Reminding election Returning Officers, perhaps through the Electoral Commission, of the absolute need to send out absent voter paperwork at the earliest possible moment permitted by the legislation, to avoid unnecessary delay in it reaching our people overseas.
This from an MOD public webpage:
Originally Posted by MOD
The following procedures are to be adopted:
Parliamentary By Elections. On receipt by the Services of notification that a by-election is pending, a signal will be dispatched to all home commands giving the name of the constituency and address of the Electoral Registration Officer. COs should then ensure that Form F/Vote/36 (Notice of Pending By Election) is completed and posted in a prominent position on notice boards.
General Elections. The procedures as above will apply, except that Form F/Vote/51 (Notice of General Election) is to be posted on notice boards.
Local Government Elections. Local government elections in England, Scotland and Wales are normally held on the first Thursday in May (there is no set date for Northern Ireland). No notification is made. Personnel may vote using their preferred voting option.
European Parliamentary Elections. The same procedures as for local government elections apply.
Using this post to develop quickly and 'transparently' an updated list of recommendations to local Councils which are responsible for (a) Electoral Registration and (b) the conduct of Elections - the "returning officer" side of the house.
NB this is only supplementary to the letters which other members have already written, or are about to write, to local Councils. Personal letters much more effective than a round robin. Several excellent letters noted, thanks all.
Endstate of this post will be recommendations [which we have now brought to attention of a relevant national organisation]. Will also remain here as a clear and hopefully helpful statement for elections professionals looking-in on this site.
Recommendations to be realistic and achieveable quickly, in time to make a difference for the forthcoming General Election.
• Background on 'electoral deficit' in the forces community. Effects of abolition of 'one-time' service voter registration. Turbulence, deployment, difficulties in obtaining information from theatre: welfare computers, welfare telephone allowances. Postal voting problems.
• Electoral Registration problems for mobilised TA/reservists, FTRS. Most should have been already registered from home address, but some may not retain that home address. FTRS are recommended by MOD to rent out home accomodation rather than leave it vacant. Flexibility/understanding requested from EROs, within the limits of the regulations. EROs requested to consider these factors, and have advice ready for enquirers. Also to have proxy form RP2 downloadable from their website.
• Council websites. Huge variations in quality and amount of information - it CAN be done. We can give examples of 'best practice'. We'd like the absolute minimum acceptable standard to be achieved by the end of the week: a clear and easily found web page which includes a prominent graphic live link to aboutmyvote.co.uk. Sorry but this is so important that if any Council hasnt either done this by the end of the week, or supplied excellent information within their own site, there may be pressure from our members to draw attention.
• The actual voting process. As some forces members stationed overseas are likely to remain postal voters for the next election, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of returning officers sending out the postal voter paperwork at the earliest possible moment permitted by the regulations.
• Liaise with local garrisons/MOD establishments, and be prepared to advise candidates on getting election leaflets to the local Forces community, wherever public access is restricted.
• Added 15 Feb We hear that one of our members has received a letter from their ERO, confirming their postal vote and asking them to email a BFPO address if deployed. We trust all Councils are taking similar action now. Elections professionals, this link to elsewhere on our site may be of interest, also the post two down from that one: http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn/index.ph...=214626#214626
'ARRSE' consultation period closed 14 Feb, thanks all. The above now summarises a consensus view.
SPECIFIC POINTS FOR MOBILISED TA/RESERVISTS & FTRS - AND THEIR UNITS
Electoral advice & assistance to members of the Armed Forces is a matter for local Councils, and for Units, who are required by MOD to provide personnel with "every reasonable assistance" to register to vote.
Here on ARRSE, we can only pass on information and suggestions in good faith, for your consideration - your responsibility. Nevertheless, the information we have collected so far in this thread has proved far more up-to-date than some official websites.
Some of our members have reported problems which still seem to be below the radar of official bodies. Including electoral registration/voting problems specific to reserve forces serving full-time:
• Members of the reserve forces are, we believe, not entitled to register as "service voters". They can only register as "ordinary voters", an option which is also now available to regulars.
• Our suggestion to reservists overseas is the same as for regulars - arrange a proxy rather than a postal vote. Registered "service voters" are automatically entitled to a proxy vote, in other words to appoint a relative or other person to vote on their behalf. Registered "ordinary voters" do not have the same automatic right.
• However, we understand that a reservist who is to be away from home, owing to duty, is entitled to apply for a proxy vote for a period, or for an election on a specific date.
• We think that most or all registration officers will interpret the regulations flexibly and sympathetically in favour of mobilised personnel. 'ARRSE' is now reminding them to do so.
• If your proxy is not in your constituency and able to vote in person on your behalf, they will need a postal vote.
• There are two versions of the proxy voter application form for "ordinary voters", RP2 which is for a period, and RP2A which is for an election on a specific date. RP2 is the appropriate one for those applying at this stage. It includes a declaration to be signed off on behalf of your employer - ie RTMC Chilwell or your unit in theatre. Both forms are available from most Councils but not, so far, from aboutmyvote.uk .
Hope this helps. We don't want to add to the long list of "things to do" pre-deployment. Attention to this by RTMC, as well as deployed units, would greatly simplify matters for all concerned.
Let us know please of any problems with either Councils or Units. PM 'hackle', or email firstname.lastname@example.org . If we publish anything here, we won't normally identify units or locations, and certainly not name individuals. Report any hint of the cry - "Reasonable assistance is for regulars only" :(
If your unit/establishment/garrison/formation (tri-service) has a really good initiative to help mobilised personnel with registration, remember we're now taking "Heroes of Democracy" nominations! RTMC?
See recent posts in this thread:
1. "RECOMMENDATIONS TO LOCAL COUNCILS"
2. "SPECIFIC POINTS FOR MOBILISED TA/RESERVISTS & FTRS..."
Most members of the various British Armed Forces reserves, if currently serving full-time under various categories of obligation, are likely to be absent from home during the next General Election.
We understand they are not, however, automatically entitled to a proxy vote in the same way as those members of the Regular Forces who choose to register as "service voters".
Postal Voting problems:
We are aware that postal voting is another option for absent voters. We would like local returning officers (as is generally the case) to send out postal ballot papers at the earliest possible moment permitted by the regulations. We would also like the Ministry of Defence to take extra steps to ensure that British Forces postal arrangements are running at maximum speed and reliability throughout the election period.
However, in view of typical turn-around times for mail to operational theatres such as Iraq and Afghanistan and even to locations such as Germany, we agree with others who have suggested that Forces absent voters should normally arrange a proxy, rather than a postal vote.
Some Forces voters will give a home address rather than an address overseas. Including some reservists deploying as individual reinforcements and not as members of a formed unit, as their BFPO address may change during their time overseas. Even once the postal ballot papers arrive at "base", an individual may be away on operations and not receive the paperwork for some days. There are multiple reports from previous elections of postal ballots not arriving in time, even in Germany. Other individuals may well have posted back the papers in previous elections. but never been aware that they failed to reach the returning officer in time.
Our suggestions to make it easier for reservists to arrange proxy voting:
We suggest reservists should use Form RP2 "APPLICATION TO VOTE BY PROXY FOR A DEFINITE OR INDEFINITE PERIOD" -
rather than Form RP2A "APPLICATION TO VOTE BY PROXY FOR A PARTICULAR ELECTION". RP2A can only be used once an election has been announced.
Many local authorities make form RP2 available from their websites; these forms are in fact generic, but with minor non-critical personalisations by the Council. We understand that in fact no Council would be in a position to reject a form which contained the information legally required.
We would like to see generic proxy forms made available from the national 'aboutmyvote' website. Similarly, the Ministry of Defence to arrange for these forms to be made available, especially in Units likely to employ reservists, and mobilisation establishments. It's better for reservists to arrange a proxy vote before leaving UK, with the form being signed off by the mobilisation establishment as employer.
email just in via email@example.com pointing out that the SHAPE "Facilities for You" factsheet on www.army.mod.uk states that "personnel serving overseas may not be registered as Postal Voters".
Contrary of course to what we and others have been saying all along: overseas personnel are entitled to vote by proxy or postal.
We guess that the SHAPE statement - while the writer seems to have been aware of the change of legislation in 2000/2001 - is probably a misunderstanding of the widespread view that those serving overseas are better to choose a proxy vote. But they DO have the choice of a postal vote, if they prefer.
Thanks 'informant' for drawing this to our attention - we could have been wrong, and always appreciate tips like that.
It's understandable if comprehensive welfare info like the SHAPE factsheet occasionally contains incorrect or out-of-date details on a subject like this. The sources for official info remain - DCI(JS) 01/05 "Electoral Registration", the new MOD web pages we have provided links to, and of course the excellent national site - www.aboutmyvote.co.uk
(18/2/05 - Background only, does NOT affect our info for voters. The Under-Secretary of State for Defence stated in a Parliamentary Written Answer on 8 Sep 03 that "Service personnel overseas can choose to register as Service voters by means of a Service declaration, but they can then only vote by proxy." Did the regulations change after 2003? If so, the change was not effectively publicised in the forces. In any case, the aboutmyvote site confirms that service voters can choose in advance to vote by proxy, post, or in person at the polling station in the constituency.)
Electoral Office N Ireland says registration deadline is 10 March
For anyone having problems establishing the residence qualification, such as British citizens employed abroad on a long-term basis, there may be the possibility of registering as an "Overseas Voter".
There is also something called "Declaration of Local Connection", which may help with some problems establishing residence in the desired constituency.
Advice from sources listed above.
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Courtesy of one of our members, image below of the new Electoral Commission leaflet for members of the HM Forces community. Downloadable high-quality pdf version also now availablehere (clickable link)
Introduction & Quick Links
Useful electoral & political links
Article in AFF Journal
Confidentiality & security aspects
Urgency of registration to vote
RAFCOM info on registration options.
Commonwealth & ROI citizens' right to vote
Proxy & postal voting
Issue of DCI(JS) 01/05
Alert about mistaken official info
Postal Polling Perils
Quotes from AFF Journal, Dec 2004
May elections, 11 March deadline
Questions For You
Advantages of proxy voting
Official info corrected
"Heroes of Democracy"
More on May elections - March 11 deadline
Suggestions for Units
Election Procedures within the Forces
Recommendations to Local Authorities
Mobilised TA & Reservists
Absent Voting by TA & Reservists
Reply to a question about MOD website info
Serve as a Soldier - Vote as a Citizen
KEY DATES, KEY CHOICES, KEY LINKS
New Electoral Commission leaflet
Some Election-related topics on ARRSE
Links to selected election-related topics on ARRSE
09 Jun 05 - these links should now work for the new ARRSE website
EXERCISING YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE
By no means the first or only election-related discussion, but this will show how our 'electoral' campaign started as a grassroots initiative, and took off remarkably quickly, with a wide range of active support from both serving and ex-serving members. Includes much pre-election news and comment.
SIGHTINGS OF 'MOD' VOTER INFORMATION LEAFLETS?
This was for sightings of the Armed Forces voter information leaflets promised in Parliament, and designed and printed for the Electoral Commission for wide distribution by the Ministry of Defence. Eventually, sightings were reported from several locations in UK and overseas over the period Monday 1st to Friday 4th March, 2005. We then found that the leaflets were NEVER distributed in some units.
These reports from 'ARRSE' members formed the basis of extensive recent media coverage, including questions to the Prime Minister and other Ministers in radio interviews.
Our greatest concern about the leaflets was that, as a result of their being emphasized by the MOD in Parliament and on the internal and external MOD websites, some Forces personnel and their partners thought "I can deal with it when the leaflets appear". As a result, many who intended to register missed the deadline, and will not be able to vote on 5th May.
Poll - HAVE YOU GOT YOUR VOTING PAPERS YET ???
Main aim was to give other members an indication of whether their voting papers should have arrived. Thread now closed to new posts. Reports from members prompted the following new investigation:
Poll - Postal Ballot paperwork arrived WHEN ?!?
Some Councils only sent out the main body of postal ballot paperwork on 27th April - the last permissible date in normal cases - thus effectively disenfranchising both serving and civilian postal voters overseas. We are now tracking this.
The clickable links take you to the start of the topic. You can then navigate to the latest contributions by using the links at the bottom of that page.