Entitlement to vote varies slightly for different kinds of election.

British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens who are resident in the UK are entitled to register and vote in all public elections - UK parliament, Scottish parliament or Northern Ireland or Welsh Assemblies, local government and the European Union.

The same entitlement extends to the majority of British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens posted abroad, and to their accompanying wives, husbands or civil partners. (The exception applies to any service personnel and accompanying wives, husbands or civil partners who (for British citizens only) are registered as overseas voters, in which case they can vote in UK parliamentary elections but not in other types of election.)

The group of people who can vote in a particular election is called the franchise. The Scotland Office consultation paper says that recent referendums have used either the UK Parliament franchise, or the devolved Parliament/Assembly and local government franchise. We think the difference between these two alternative franchises is unlikely to affect the majority of armed forces voters, with the exception of a small number who are registered as overseas voters.

Subject to the views received on Question 6, the consultation paper envisages the franchise for the referendum being the same as for elections for the Scottish Parliament. We look forward to seeing the SNP Scottish Government's latest proposals, but they have previously said that the Scottish Parliament franchise should be used.

It is not impossible that there are a few individual armed forces voters who have chosen to register as overseas voters but nevertheless intend to return to Scotland, and therefore wish to participate in a referendum on its constitutional future. Depending on individual circumstances, some may be in a position to re-register as service voters.

If you have comments or questions about which people connected with the armed forces should be entitled to vote in a Scottish independence referendum, we would be glad to hear from you as soon as possible.

Real-life examples would be particularly useful.



This article is about the franchise. We will have more to say about other aspects of the referendum arrangements, but as a politically non-partisan staff association we are not inviting any "radical" suggestions which go beyond the scope of the consultation paper - they can be pursued elsewhere. This article is not intended as advice on electoral entitlements, about which there are details and links elsewhere in this site. As in parliament and the media we generally use the term "service voter" in the meaning of "someone who is entitled to register as a service voter, including one who has chosen instead to register as an ordinary or overseas voter or is not registered at all".