Discuss THE "SERVICE VOTING" STICKY (2005-2009) in Current Affairs, News and Analysis on The Army Rumour Service; Welcome to the unofficial British Army Rumour Service's voter information pages.
Edit # 26: ;)
Info about electoral registration and voting in the 2010 General Election starts at this link:
Service Voting - OP STEEL ...
As ever, the Journal is an excellent read, including an interview with General Jackson.
However, it's a 40-page illustrated pdf document, not much use for anyone trying to read Rachael Troughton's article on a welfare computer, so I hope the AFF will have no objection to my posting extracts from the article later on.
We do believe that with all the information and assistance available (on the web, in the DCI, from Electoral Registration Officers and from your Regimental/Station Admin Office) most unregistered Armed Forces members and partners should find it straightforward to register now.
- either as "ordinary voters" or as "service voters"; also choosing whether to vote at the polling station, by post or by proxy.
We don't believe that either the registration system or the voting arrangements allow sufficiently for the real-life circumstances of the Armed Forces, especially with current commitments. That is why campaigners are calling for sensible improvements to the system, as well as maximum effort on making the present arrangements work.
In theory, the requirement since 2001 to re-register annually is the same for service personnel as for any civilian voters. Re-registration for ordinary voters is a straightforward matter of signing and returning a simple form which is sent out annually. In practice, if the form is not returned in due time, ordinary voters are thought much more likely than service voters to have their names kept on the electoral register. Also, some Councils offer freefone and on-line re-registration - which is not available to registered "service voters".
Please do not infer from this post that there is a legal option of NOT registering to vote. "You are required by law to register to vote, even if you do not intend to vote."
One of the reasons often stated for not registering is the thought that "my name and address being on the electoral register could compromise my personal security".
Realistically, for most individuals this should be far less of a concern than it could have been in years gone by.
It is also important to understand that there are now two versions of the electoral register:
Originally Posted by Colchester Borough Council
Q: Can anyone see my name and address on the electoral register?
A: New laws have been brought in to restrict the ways in which the electoral roll can be used. From now on you can choose not to have your name shown on the register that is sold to the public and to mailing firms.
The full register, with everyone's names on, is only available for election purposes (including use by candidates and political parties), for law enforcement and also for use by credit referencing agencies (so they can confirm you live where you say you do).
Anyone can inspect a copy of the full register at the Town Hall under supervision, but they would have to know your address to be able to find your name. It would be very difficult for them to find your address by just knowing your name.
It is against the law for anyone to use the full electoral register for any purpose not provided for within the Representation of the People Acts. The register that is available for sale from 1 December 2003 will only contain the names of people who have agreed to be on the 'edited' version of the register.
To have your name removed from the version of the register that is available for general sale, you simply need to tick the 'opt-out' box on the annual canvass form, or on the Voter Registration form used for 'rolling registration'.
Note that the opt-out from the "edited register" is available both to:
"service voters" (including partners);
and Armed Forces members/partners who register as "ordinary voters".
In appropriate cases, some Electoral Registration Officers are willing to accept "anonymous" registration. (Various ways of electors' names being disguised or hidden within the "full register".) If the concern about registering is security-related, I would definitely take military advice first.
The credit-referencing "advantage" of registration will help you best if your credit application is from the same address as the one on the electoral register. For mail order etc, if no credit is involved, you probably need to be on the edited register before the mail order company can helpfully flash up your details.
Some may be concerned that registration could make it easier for creditors, ex-partners etc to catch up with them. In principle this should not be a problem if you opt out from the "edited register". In any case, if they know you are in the Forces, they have other ways of getting in touch!
As with all such information posted in good faith, none of this is "advice". Serving personnel who have security-related questions should obviously consult within the system as appropriate, and make their own decisions accordingly.
Link to a post in the separate 'discussion' thread, stressing the urgency of registering to vote, in view of speculation about a General Election thought most likely in May but possibly as soon as early March:
Includes some RAF-specific info:
Personnel Service Flight (PSF) should maintain a list of EROs and addresses.
Some unit PSF staff may hold a stock of relevant forms.
Otherwise, the information supplied by RAFCOM is relevant to all, including this on your choice of voting methods:
Originally Posted by RAFCOM
Your ERO will advise on circumstances and relevant forms to complete. However, depending upon how registered, basic rules are:
Service Voters in the UK. May vote in person, by post or by proxy. If you register as a postal voter you will automatically receive ballot papers for all elections.
Service Voters Overseas. If outside the UK at the time of election, you can vote only through a proxy nominated by yourself who lives in the UK. Service personnel (and their spouses if accompanying them overseas) are advised before you go to appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf.
Civilian Electors in the UK. Normally vote in person, although it is possible to vote by post or proxy in certain circumstances.
Civilian Electors Overseas. Can vote by post or through a proxy living in the UK.
Comment: Good for RAFCOM! Any reason why the Army hasn't done the same? (RN/RM Families Support has some info for partners.) Out of interest, anyone seen anything in Brigade/Garrison families information/welcome literature?
As well known, voting in UK elections has always been available to citizens of the Republic of Ireland. (Eire)
This also applies to all resident in UK who are citizens of any Commonwealth country.
If you are in touch with members of the Armed Forces who are citizens of the ROI;
or Fiji, or any other Commonwealth country; please do what you can to ensure they do not miss out by default on their legal right to vote.
All who are serving our country deserve the opportunity to vote, if they wish. None of them should feel constrained from voting because they are not British citizens, have arrived fairly recently, or happen to have kept a family home back in their country of origin. Residence is a matter for the electoral registration officer, but we believe that a genuine address in a UK barracks should be sufficient, even if the individual is currently deployed on operations.
Please report any problems - Fijian personnel in Germany-based units?
Nepalese citizens unfortunately not included.
This from the excellent About My Vote website (link already posted):
Who can register?
You can register to vote if you are a British, Commonwealth or EU citizen and if you are 16 or over. You cannot vote until your 18th birthday. Citizens of EU countries, other than the UK, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus or Malta, cannot vote in UK Parliamentary elections, and must fill in a separate form to vote in the UK's European Parliamentary elections.
So far, these notes have concentrated more on electoral registration, rather than the choice of actual voting methods at the election:
• In person at the polling station
• By postal vote, or
• By nominating a proxy to vote on your behalf.
This from the Electoral Commission's advice for Service personnel and partners: (link previously posted)
You can apply to vote by post or proxy. Postal votes are sent out approximately one week before polling day, so if you are not likely to be able to receive and return a postal vote in that time, it would be better to appoint a proxy ... Electors registered either way [service voters or ordinary voters] may apply to vote by post or proxy.
Only one of these choices is available to you at any one election; but you can always change your preference by application to the Council's Electoral Registration Officer.
Some forces personnel and partners have reported problems with postal voting in previous elections. Others object to being 'expected' to appoint a proxy. More on this to follow soon. We welcome feedback from any forces personnel or partners about postal or proxy voting problems/concerns.
Please do not be put off registering to vote NOW.
If a proxy or postal vote is appropriate for you, you should apply at the same time as you register to vote.
We and others continue to advocate improvements to the present arrangements.
At time of writing, we haven't found anything new on Electoral Commission website. (link previously posted).
1. "Leaflets with further information will be sent to all units in early February." Good. Some observers will read this as a pointer to the date of the General Election (5th May?). Either way, registration remains an urgent issue.
2. Just hope the leaflet packages dont get bumped off flights, like the newspapers! Seriously, look out for the leaflets.
3. If serving or a 'partner', ask to see the new DCI.
4. The welcome new DCI reinforces the 'ARRSE' message: register NOW.