New concerns about electoral participation by armed forces personnel

Concerns about voter registration and voting difficulties for armed forces personnel have again surfaced in Parliament, although it was acknowledged that steps have been taken since the Service Voting campaign of 2005 to improve electoral awareness in the forces. This exchange took place during a 20 October debate on the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill ( source):

Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): My hon. Friend has not touched on the question of registration by service personnel overseas. At the last election, whole swathes of them were denied the right to vote. Does this Bill do anything to rectify that?

Mr. Dunne (Ludlow) (Con): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for referring to armed services personnel. The Government, with the Ministry of Defence and service chiefs, have taken steps to increase significantly awareness of voting among armed forces personnel overseas, but there is no doubt that operational risks are involved. We have all heard the rumours that British Forces Postal Services in theatre are at risk of being closed down for security reasons. That would mean that members of our forces currently serving in Afghanistan might well be denied a vote if a general election were to take place very soon. That would obviously be a tragedy; if possible, our servicemen and women should not be deprived of the opportunity to vote.

On the power of the Executive to declare war, Ministry of Justice Minister Michael Wills revealed during the same debate that:

The draft Commons resolution on the processes for the deployment of armed forces has been the subject of extensive discussion. It has been prepared and will be presented shortly.

Armed forces voters / Service voters

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