The Elections Act 2022
The Act contains measures that affect:
- elections and the way we vote
- campaigning and the rules on campaign spending and funding
- parliamentary oversight of the Electoral Commission
Find out more about the Elections Act 2022 on the Electoral Commission website [external link].
Changes you will see for May 2023 elections
Voters at polling stations will need to show photo ID before they receive their ballot paper.
This applies for:
- general elections in Great Britain
- local elections in England
- Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales.
The following photographic ID will are acceptable:
- Photocard driving license
- Biometric immigration document
- Defence identity card
- Northern Ireland Electoral Identity Card
- EEA National ID card
- Blue Badge
- Government issued concessionary older or disabled person’s travel pass or Northern Ireland concessionary travel pass
- Scottish National Entitlement Card
Only original documents, including expired documents if the photo is still a current likeness, will be accepted. See the full list of photo ID that will be accepted (Gov.UK).
What if I don't have an accepted form of ID?
If you do not have any of the accepted Photo ID, and you want to vote at a polling station, you will need to apply for a for a free Voter Authority Certificate (VAC).
You can apply online through the Gov.UK website:
Alternatively, you can complete a paper application form or apply in person at the Town Hall, Feethams, Darlington, DL1 5QT.
If you apply in person there is no need to bring a photo as this can be done by a member of the Elections Team but please bring a note of your National Insurance Number with you, as this will be required as part of the application process.
If you need any help with applying for a Voter Authority Certificate or want to request an application form, contact [email protected] or call 01325 406444.
Voter ID - Your Guide [pdf document] provides all the information you need to know about photo ID for the May 2023 elections.
We offer a range of support to disabled voters.
At the polling station
Support is available to disabled voters at our polling stations.
All polling stations are wheelchair accessible, and we provide ramps where needed.
Where available, reserved parking is available for voters with disabilities.
Polling station staff
Our staff working in the polling station will wear a name badge, and are available to help and give guidance.
There is a range of equipment provided to each polling station to enable, or make it easier, for voters with disabilities to cast their vote independently and in secret. The equipment includes:
- Polling booths at wheelchair level help voters who use a wheelchair to access a lower writing surface
- Enlarged hand held copies of the ballot paper can be given to voters who are partially sighted to take into the polling booth
- A ‘tactile voting device’ to enable blind or visually impaired voters to mark their ballot papers without help
- Magnifiers to increase the size of the text on a document providing support for voters who are visually impaired to vote independently.
- Chairs/seating providing a place to rest for voters who cannot stand for long periods, and a seat for voters who would like to take some time to think before entering the polling station
- Pencil grips to help voters with dexterity impairments to more easily hold and use a pencil independently.
If you need further assistance to mark your ballot paper, help is available.
- if you are a disabled voter and you would like support to complete a ballot paper on your own, you can take a companion over the age of 18 to the polling station to assist you
- the presiding officer at the polling station can help you fill in your ballot paper.
Other ways of voting
If you don't want to go to the polling station to vote, you can vote by post, and voters with a disability can have a permanent proxy vote. For further information, visit:
Easy read guides
To help overcome concerns and anxieties about what voting at the polling station will be like, easy read guides are available for voters who want to know more about voting at the polling station:
Changes you will see after May 2023
Absent voting lets you vote in an election even if you can't get to the polling station.
You could be at work, on holiday or have a condition that makes it hard to visit a polling station.
There are two types of absent voting - postal voting and proxy voting.
You'll need to provide proof of your identity.
Existing secrecy requirements will be extended to postal and proxy votes.
The Electoral Commission website [external link] has more details about the secrecy requirements.
If you vote by post, your voting card will be sent to you. You'll fill it in and send it back by post.
If you vote by post, you'll have to apply again every 3 years.
Currently you have to refresh your signature every 5 years.
Apply for a postal vote [external link].
Political parties and campaigners are banned from handling postal votes.
If you're handing in postal votes at a polling station, you are only allowed to hand in 6 at the most.
If you vote by proxy, someone you trust will vote for you.
You can act as a proxy for up to 4 people. Of these, the maximum number who can be 'domestic electors' (voters living in the UK) is 2.
Apply for a proxy vote [external link].
The voting system will change in all elections for:
- local authority (council) mayors in England
- combined authority mayors
- Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales
- the London mayor
The system will change from the supplementary vote system to the 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.
They do not have to get a certain number of votes, they just have to get more than any other candidate.
EU citizens will no longer automatically be entitled to register, vote, or stand for election.
These changes will apply to:
- all local elections and referendums in England
- elections for council and combined authority mayors
- Police and Crime Commissioner elections
Two groups of EU citizens will keep these rights:
- Qualifying EU citizens; and
- EU citizens with retained rights.
Qualifying EU citizens
These are EU citizens who:
- come from countries which have reciprocal agreements with the UK; and
- who have 'leave to remain' in the UK, or who do not need 'leave to remain' in the UK.
Currently this means citizens from:
A reciprocal agreement means that the same rules apply in both the UK and that country.
For example, a Polish citizen in the UK could vote or stand for election in the UK. A UK citizen in Poland could vote or stand for election in Poland.
EU citizens with retained rights
These are EU citizens who were living in the UK before 1 January 2021 (in other words, before the UK left the EU).
We expect that the changes will come into force by spring 2024.
The 15-year limit on voting for British citizens living abroad will end.
This means that any British citizen living abroad who has previously lived in, or been registered to vote in the UK would have the right to vote at UK Parliamentary elections.
British citizens living abroad will be able to register to vote using the address where they were registered before.
If you were never registered to vote, you can register using the last UK address you lived at.
British citizens living abroad will no longer have to register as an overseas voter every year. Instead, they will have to register every 3 years.
We expect that the changes will come into force by July 2023.
For further information contact the:-
DL1 5 QT
Tel. 01325 406444
E-Mail [email protected]