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Electoral Procedures

Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to ensure that service personnel on operations can vote in elections. [112655]

The Representation of the People Act 2000 and the Representation of the People (Scotland) Regulations 2001 presented Service personnel with a range of electoral registration options. They may register to vote at their private or other qualifying address, Service Families Accommodation or Single Living Accommodation, or register to vote by means of a Service declaration, or by rolling registration. A fresh Service declaration must be made every 12 months and, together with all households in the United Kingdom, all Service Voters will receive an annual renewal notification from the local Electoral Registration Officer with whom they are registered. The Ministry of Defence issues annual Defence Council Instructions explaining these measures in detail. The last was issued on 31 January 2003. Those overseas who are registered as Service Voters can only vote by proxy. Those in the United Kingdom who are unable to vote in person may vote by either post or proxy. Those individuals who choose to register on an electoral register—and who are not registered as Service Voters through a Service declaration—will be able to vote either by post or proxy if they are overseas or away from home during an election. If personnel are overseas, every effort is made by ships, units, and stations to give reasonable assistance to personnel to register or vote in line with their electoral registration choice.