nn

Arrangements for Personnel in Afghanistan


4. A Working Group comprising MOD, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Electoral Commission officials
has been considering ways to make it easier for Service personnel who will be in Afghanistan at the
time of the General Election to vote by post if that is their choice. An additional Service Voting and
registration campaign will be run for those who will be in Afghanistan during the election period.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. In the meantime, work with the Ministry of justice continues to explore ways of improving voting
arrangements for overseas voters and, for the longer term, to pursue their efforts to identify a
comprehensive solution.
Question and Answer Brief
What are you doing to enable Service personnel to vote in the forthcoming General Election?
Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is responsible the electoral process. MOD and the Electoral Commission
conduct extensive information campaigns annually, coinciding with the autumn household canvass,
to encourage Service personnel to register to vote. The latest campaign emphasised the importance
of registration in view of this year's General Election. We will be running further reminders during the
period leading up to the Election.
How does proxy voting work? Surely this isn't a secure process?
Voting by proxy can be particularly useful if you are overseas in a country too far away to send back
a postal vote in time for the election. It means that you appoint someone you trust to vote on your
behalf. We advise Service personnel and their families abroad to vote by proxy.
What arrangements are you making to enable Service personnel serving in Afghanistan to
vote?
MOD has been working with MoJ and the Electoral Commission to devise a scheme which would
deliver ballot papers to and from Afghanistan in time for them to be counted. This involves using a
facility to sort and pack ballot papers for airfreight to units/individuals serving in Camp Bastion,
Kandahar or Kabul 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. Nonetheless, operational priorities prevail so we
cannot guarantee this scheme will work for every Service person in Afghanistan.
I read somewhere that there might be problems with postal votes going to and coming back
from Afghanistan - are you going to run any special flights?
The electoral time frame is particularly tight. We are not providing any special or additional flights -
see response above to 'What arrangements are you making to enable Service personnel serving in
Afghanistan to vote?'.
Are you making any special arrangements to enable other Service personnel based overseas
(for example in Germany, Cyprus and the Falklands) to be able to vote by post?
MoJ continue their endeavours to examine how postal voting arrangements for families in Germany
can be improved as well as those for personnel and families in other overseas locations - they aim to
identify a comprehensive solution for the next Parliament.
Why are Service personnel in Afghanistan getting special treatment?
These arrangements recognise the specific operational circumstances of our personnel serving in
Afghanistan. This work will help to develop potential longer term solutions for our wider Service
community living and serving overseas.