Elections Act 2022
The UK Government is implementing significant changes to the current electoral system. The Elections Act 2022 outlines several measures which will affect the way that we vote and how we conduct elections.
One of the biggest changes is the requirement for individuals to show photographic identification (such as a passport or drivers licence) when they vote at a polling station.
The sections below provide a summary of the changes. You can find out more about the Elections Act 2022 by visiting the UK Government website.
All electors are required to show an official form of photographic identification (ID) when voting in person at a polling station. A list of acceptable ID documents is included below. If you do not have any of the accepted forms of ID you can apply online for a free Voter Authority Certificate – this is a photographic identity document specifically for the purpose of voting.
If you own an accepted form of photographic ID but it has expired it can still be used, as long as the photograph is still a good likeness of you.
To access the application service for a Voter Authority Certificate please visit https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-photo-id-voter-authority-certificate
You must be registered to vote in order to apply. If you need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate, make sure you do so in good time ahead of it being required at the polling station.
Accepted forms of ID:
- a passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country
- a driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or an EEA state
- a biometric immigration document
- an identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)
- Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)
- a Blue Badge
- a national identity card issued by an EEA state
- an Older Person’s Bus Pass
- a Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
- an Oyster 60+ Card
- a Freedom Pass
- a Scottish National Entitlement Card issued in Scotland
- a 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
- a Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
- a Senior SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- a Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person’s SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- a War Disablement SmartPass or War Disabled SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- a 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- a Half Fare SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- an Electoral Identity Card issued in Northern Ireland
Absent voting allows you to vote in an election if you cannot get to the polling station. There are currently two types of absent voting – postal voting and proxy voting. You can find out more about postal voting and proxy voting by visiting our How to vote pages.
Changes to absent voting
The government has introduced a new system for applying for a postal/proxy applications and you will be able to apply online from October 31 2023. You will need your National Insurance number to hand to make this application.
The existing secrecy requirements will be extended to postal and proxy votes. You can find out more about the secrecy requirements on the Electoral Commission website.
Currently when you vote by post you are required to refresh your signature every 5 years, this will be changing to every 3 years.
If you hand in your postal vote at a polling station on the day of the election, you will only be allowed to hand in a maximum of 6 postal votes. Political parties and campaigners will be prevented from handing in postal votes.
You will only be able to act as a proxy for a maximum of 4 people. Of these 4, the maximum number who can be ‘domestic electors’ (voters living in the UK) is 2.
The new law will make it easier for voters with disabilities to vote. Voters with disabilities will be given extra support at polling stations and proposals will allow anyone over the age of 18 to act as a companion for a voter with a disability.
EU citizens will no longer automatically be entitled to register, vote or stand for election. Two groups of EU citizens will keep these rights:
- qualifying EU citizens who come from countries which have reciprocal agreements with the UK (currently this is Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain)
- EU citizens with retained rights, who were living in the UK before 1 January 2021 (before the UK left the EU)
This change will apply to all local elections and referendums in England, all elections for council and combined authority mayors, and Police and Crime Commissioner elections. These changes are expected to take place by spring 2024.
The 15 year limit on voting for British citizens living overseas has ended. Going forward any British citizen, who was previously registered to vote in the UK or who previously lived in the UK, can register to vote regardless of how long they have lived abroad.
If you would like to register to vote as an overseas elector, please visit the register to vote website.
Additionally, the renewal period for overseas electors will be changing from 1 to 3 years.
These changes came into force on 16 January 2024.
From May 2023 the voting system will be changing from a supplementary vote system to a simple majority voting system, also known as ‘first past the post’. In ‘first past the post’ voting you only vote for one candidate and the candidate with the most votes wins. Candidates no longer need to get a certain number of votes; they just have to get more than any other candidate.
The voting system will be changed in all elections for:
- local authority (council) mayors in England
- combined authority mayors
- Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales
- the London mayor