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:

  • Passport
  • 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

If you do not have any official form of photo ID from the above list, you can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate (VAC) from January 2023.

Once applications for the Voter Identity Card are open, you'll find the link on this page.

Anyone over the age of 18 will be able to accompany a disabled voter at a polling station, to help them to vote.

Voters with disabilities will be given extra support at polling stations.

The Returning Officer is responsible for accessibility arrangements.

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.

Postal voting

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.

Proxy voting

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:

  • Luxembourg
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Spain

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.

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