Sunday, July 21, 2024

The origins of BAFF lie partly in a non-politically-partisan campaign by serving and recently-discharged personnel to encourage members of the armed forces community to register to vote, in order to make their own voting choice in the General Election of 2005.

In the course of their research in order to provide information, campaigners identified several serious legislative and administrative problems with arrangements at that time. The resulting publicity helped to encourage electoral participation and, following the election, the campaign helped to bring about genuine legislative and administrative improvements.

Campaigners' work continued under the wing of the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) launched in 2006. BAFF was represented along with the MoD and the Service Family Federations in meetings to ministerial level in preparations for the General Election of 2015.

BAFF's non-partisan electoral awareness campaigning continued for the Scotland referendum - when their words were quoted with approval by both sides - and for the European Referendum of 2016.

Thanks to the success of the campaign in 2005 and the priority now given to the issue by Government and Parliament, Electoral Commission, local electoral registration officers and the MoD and units, and above all thanks to the actions of service personnel themselves, electoral registration within the armed forces community has generally improved over the years.

Electoral participation - the fact of actually casting one's vote and having it actually included in the count - is a separate problem, and can present obvious issues for personnel who are deployed, or at sea.

A great source for up-to-date research on armed forces voting is a paper by the House of Commons Library, the latest edition being published in August 2023, which is included in our links below.

The next UK General Election must be held not later than January 2025 at the absolute latest, but the Prime Minister has now told journalists to look forward to a general election that “WILL be in 2024.

Given that the UK GE timetable from the first announcement is still short compared to some countries (although longer than it was), armed forces voters should be thinking about their electoral arrangements in advance of any deployment or posting.

As I understand that BAFF still has some experience within its ranks of politically-neutral monitoring, advising and assisting on electoral registration and electoral participation in the armed forces community, what should it be doing this time round?



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Anonymous replied the topic:
6 months 4 weeks ago
I know we liaised widely about this stuff prior to previous elections and referendums, but is there any ongoing contact at the moment? Maybe Central Govt would be pretty wary of increasing interest right now. And it's not for us to fire the starting gun!