'Service personnel encouraged to exercise their right to vote '
(31 Mar 2010) With a General Election expected to be called soon, Service Personnel are being encouraged to exercise their right to vote, deployed personnel being recommended to appoint a proxy if possible. For those who are likely to be in Afghanistan during the General Election,
please see the highlighted information below. This information was issued by the Ministry of Defence on 31 Mar 2010:
To exercise the right to vote in UK elections, you must be registered.
Individuals may choose to register to vote in one of three ways:
- As an Ordinary Voter: all Regular and Reserve personnel based in the UK can register in the same way as ordinary electors by filling in and returning the annual canvass registration form. Ordinary voters must re-register annually.
- As a Service Voter: this option is open to all Regular personnel (including spouses or civil partners) and is particularly suitable for personnel posted overseas or likely to be posted abroad in the near future. Service Registration currently lasts for three years.
- As an Overseas Voter, although registering as a Service Voter is the recommended option.
There is still time for individuals to take action to register to vote.
Registration forms, for both Service Voters and Ordinary Voters, and details of how to vote, can be obtained from the Electoral Commission Website -
- Registration forms for Her Majesty's Armed Forces, or their husband, wife, or civil partner - About my vote, produced by the Electoral Commission
- More links on MoD web page - see under 'Related Links'
When the election happens, the main ways to vote are in person at a polling station; by post; or by proxy (someone in the UK voting on your behalf).
Service personnel based overseas will generally have insufficient time to receive a postal ballot and return it in time for polling day, and therefore the MOD and Electoral Commission continue to encourage appointing a proxy as the best way to vote.
Service voting and registration campaign in Afghanistan
An additional Service Voting and registration campaign is being run specifically for those who will be in Afghanistan during the forthcoming election period.
MOD, the Ministry of Justice and the Electoral Commission are working closely together to make suitable provisions for Service personnel in Afghanistan including the fast tracking of postal voting forms.
Arrangements are in hand to improve the existing process through quicker delivery of ballots to enable Service personnel in Afghanistan to receive and return their postal votes within the constraints of the electoral timeframe.
This involves using a facility to sort and pack ballot papers for airfreight to units/individuals serving in Afghanistan and, on their return, for the sorting and distribution of sealed postal ballots to the returning officers in constituencies around the UK.
Units will be required to facilitate arrangements for Service personnel to cast their vote in theatre and to ensure enveloped ballot papers are collected and packaged for airfreight for their return to the UK.
However, this scheme will not work for every Service person in Afghanistan and due to the tight electoral timeframe, electoral timeframes and operational priorities, success cannot be guaranteed. Service personnel are therefore still encouraged to register to vote by proxy.
Unit Registration Officers are advised to remind all personnel and their families of the need to register to vote and to ensure personnel are clear on what they need to do.
The last opportunity to apply to register to vote, to request a new postal vote, or to change or cancel an existing postal/proxy vote is 11 days prior to the election date.
The last date for new applications to vote by proxy is six days prior to the election date.
A date for this year's General Election has yet to be announced but the General Election has to have been held by 3 June 2010.
Personnel are advised therefore to act soon to register their preferred way of voting.
The MOD continues to work closely with the Electoral Commission and the Ministry of Justice (who lead on electoral process) to help Service personnel and their families to register and to vote.