The Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, Michael Wills MP, had more to say in Parliament on 23 Mar 2010 about the 'bespoke' arrangements for service personnel in Afghanistan to vote by post if they prefer. MPs also heard about ongoing consultations (which include BAFF) regarding future voting arrangements for service personnel, and the Conservatives confirmed that they would co-operate in that exercise in a cross-party way.
For registration, we have extended the period for service declarations to five years, and the Electoral Commission is leading a drive to increase registration, including providing bespoke registration forms for service personnel in Afghanistan. Proxy votes are available to all registered service personnel serving overseas, and we are also offering a bespoke scheme to expedite postal voting in Afghanistan. For the longer term, we are consulting on measures to provide a comprehensive solution. ...
I can assure the House that we have better arrangements for postal voting in this election than we had in previous elections. It is worth reminding the House that every member of the armed services can vote by proxy, should they so wish, and there is no doubt about that vote being registered. But as the hon. Gentleman will know, there are service personnel operating in extremely difficult and arduous circumstances in Afghanistan, often in remote areas. We are doing everything we can to get the ballot forms out as quickly as possible and back as quickly as possible. There will be a significant improvement. I cannot guarantee that every one will be able to be counted, but we are doing everything we can.
- House of Commons debates - 23 Mar 2010: Service Personnel (Voting)
MPs also mentioned the Service Voter Working Group which was set up by the Ministry of Justice last autumn and includes representatives of the three Service Family Federations and - since January - the British Armed Forces Federation. For the longer term, consultations have begun on measures to provide a comprehensive solution for the future.
For the future-this is important-we are now looking into how we can move to electronic voting for the next general election and we want to get support for that. It is very complicated and will involve huge changes to electoral law. We want to move together on an all-party basis.
The Minister had written to Opposition parties asking them to support that approach. Eleanor Laing MP, Shadow Justice Minister (Conservative) confirmed that her party would co-operate in a cross-party way.