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Elections Act 2022

The UK government is making changes to the UK electoral system. The Elections Act 2022 contains measures that affect elections and how we vote. The most significant of these is the introduction of photo identification at polling stations. This new requirement will apply for the first time in England at the local elections on Thursday 4 May 2023.

Changes for electors in May 2023: Voter Identification and Voter Authority Certificate

The new law will also make it easier for voters with disabilities to vote. These changes will be in place for the 4 May 2023 elections. 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.

Other measures being introduced by the Elections Act include changes to absent voting, EU citizen's voting and candidacy rights, and overseas electors’ rights.

Changes to absent voting include:

  • Political parties and campaigners will be banned from handling postal votes
  • There will be a limit to the number of postal votes a person can hand in at a polling station
  • Postal voters will need to make a fresh application every three years, instead of the five-yearly signature refresh
  • Electors will only be allowed to act as proxy for up to four people, of which no more than two can be "domestic electors" - i.e. not overseas voters
  • Postal or proxy voting applications will include a requirement for the applicant's identity to be verified

The changes are expected to be in place for the May 2024 Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

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 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 will apply to all local elections and referendums in England.

The changes are expected to be in place for the May 2024 Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

Changes to overseas electors' rights include:

  • The 15-year limit on British citizens living abroad will be removed
  • Overseas electors will be able to register at an address where they were previously registered OR even never registered, where they were last resident
  • The registration period will be extended from one year to three

The changes are expected to be in place by May 2024.