Elections Act 2022

The Elections Act 2022 contains several measures that affect elections and how electors vote. The most significant change is the introduction of photographic identification in polling stations, which took effect from the elections held on Thursday 4 May 2023.

The other measures introduced through this act are explained below.

Voters in England need to show photographic identification to vote at polling stations in some elections.

This applies to:

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

If you don’t have an accepted form of photographic identification, you can apply for a free voter ID document, which is known as a Voter Authority Certificate.

Absent voting allows you to vote in an election if you are unable to vote in person at the polling station on the day.

Postal voting – the ballot paper is sent to a specified address via 1st Class post. You will then need to mark the ballot paper and complete the accompanying statement, before returning it in time for it to be included in the count.

Proxy voting – you can appoint someone you to trust to vote on your behalf. Once appointed they will vote at the polling station at which you would normally vote at.

Changes from 31 October 2023

You will have the option to apply for a postal vote and non-permanent proxy voting arrangements online.

You will need to provide your National Insurance number when applying for an absent vote, whether this is an online application or paper application.

Postal Voting

  • Postal voters will need to make a fresh application every three years, instead of the five-yearly signature refresh
  • Political parties and campaigners will be banned from handling postal vote packs.
  • There will be a limit on the number of postal vote packs that a person can hand in at a polling station.

Proxy Votes

  • You will only be able to act as a proxy for up to 2 people living in the UK (or a maximum of 4 people, with 2 people living in the UK and 2 people registered as living overseas).

Changes to EU citizens’ voting and candidacy rights include:

  • EU citizens will no longer automatically be entitled to register, vote, and stand for election
  • Two groups of EU citizens will retain their rights:
    • ‘Qualifying EU citizens’ from countries with reciprocal agreements, and who have leave, or do not require it, to remain in the UK – currently Denmark, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and Spain
    • ‘EU citizens with retained rights’ who were residents in the UK before 1 January 2021 – i.e. before the UK left the EU

The changes to EU citizens’ voting and candidacy rights come into force from 7 May 2024 and will apply to all local elections and referendums in England.

From 16 January 2024, there are changes for British and eligible Irish citizens living overseas:

  • British and eligible Irish citizens living overseas can register to vote in the UK on a permanent basis.
  • The renewal of an individual’s overseas registration now takes place every three years.

What has changed?

The fifteen year limit on voting rights for British citizens living overseas has been removed, and the registration period for these voters will be extended from one year to three. This means that overseas voters need to renew their registration every three years instead of annually.

Any British citizen living abroad who has previously lived in, or been registered to vote in the UK, will have the right to vote at non-local elections, such as a UK Parliamentary General Election. These voters will be registered at the constituency where they were last registered to vote, or where they lived if they were not registered to vote before.

Anyone who is registered to vote in the UK can make donations to political parties and campaigners. Extending voting rights to more British citizens living overseas will mean these new voters will also be allowed to donate to political parties and campaigners in the UK.

Political parties and campaigners are not allowed to handle completed postal votes (except their own).

Voters are unable to hand deliver more than five postal ballot papers (in addition to their own).