Elections Act and voter ID

The UK government is making changes to the 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.

Please note: The next scheduled elections are for the Mayor of London and London Assembly on 2 May 2024.

Voter identification

From May 2023, voters will be required to show photographic identification at polling stations before they are given a ballot paper. 

If you do not have any of the accepted photo IDs, and you want to vote at the polling station, you will need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.

Find out more about identification requirements for voting.

Other changes to elections

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

Absent voting - postal and proxy voting

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 3 years, instead of the 5-yearly signature refresh
  • Electors will only be allowed to act as proxy for up to 4 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

EU citizens' voting and candidacy rights

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 and to the Mayor of London and London Assembly elections. However, these changes will not take effect until after the May 2024 elections.

Overseas electors

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.

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