Service Voter

Register as a Service Voter

Registration address: If you choose to register as a Service voter you are able to register at a fixed address in the UK even if you move around or are based abroad. If you are serving in the UK you can register at the address you are living which includes Service Families Accommodation or Single Living Accommodation (SFA/SLA). Alternatively, if you can establish residency at more than one address in the UK, for example if you are living in SFA/SLA in one area but have your main family home in another area, you could give the address of your main family home on your registration form. If you are serving overseas you can register at an address where you would have been living in the UK were it not for your Service obligations. This might be an address where you live when your unit is in the UK or where you have previously lived. This option is particularly suitable if you are posted overseas or likely to be posted in the near future. 

Keeping your registration up to date: If you register as a Service voter you will only have to re-register every 5 years but you must inform your local Electoral Registration Officer if the address to which voting/ballot papers are sent to you has changed. 

Register to vote online: To register online as a Service voter you should visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote-armed-forces and complete the online application. Personnel should note the following about the online registration process: 

  1. You will need to have your National Insurance number to hand before you start the online registration process. 
  2. As part of the online application you will be asked to enter your UK address and this is the address at which you will be registered to vote. See paragraph 18 for details.
  3. A little later on in the process you will be asked “Where should we write to you about your registration?” and this is your opportunity, if appropriate, to select another address that can be used for correspondence. You may wish to enter a different address here if, for example, you are serving overseas and you want correspondence to go to your overseas address rather than the address in the UK where you are registered. 
  4. You will be given the opportunity to apply for a postal or proxy vote but this will involve completing and signing a separate offline application form. If you choose to apply for a postal vote an application will be automatically emailed to you if you have provided your email address. You will then need to print, complete, and return the form. If you have not provided your email address, or if you wish to vote by proxy, a form will be posted to your correspondence address. 
  5. If you choose to vote by proxy once you are individually registered under IER your proxy will also need to be individually registered. 

Register to vote offline: Personnel who are unable or do not wish to register to vote online can continue to use a paper registration form. Forms to register as a Service Voter are available to download from the internet and from the Service Voting and Electoral Registration page on the Defence Intranet. 

Register as an Ordinary Voter

Registration address: If you are living at an address in the UK, either in private accommodation or SFA/SLA, you can choose to register as an Ordinary voter. This option may be suitable if you are based in the UK and are unlikely to change address or be posted overseas in the next year. 

Keeping your registration up to date. Under IER, once a person is registered as an Ordinary voter they stay registered unless the Electoral Registration Officer has reason to believe they are no longer eligible. Household Enquiry Forms (HEFs) will be sent to every household each year asking for confirmation that the persons listed are still resident but unlike the old household canvass forms, HEFs cannot be used to register; they are simply to capture the names of new electors. If you move house, you would need to make a fresh application. 

​Register to vote online: To register online as an Ordinary voter you should visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and note the following: 

  1. You will need to have your National Insurance number to hand before you start the online registration process. 
  2. Do not click on the ‘Armed Forces’ link towards the bottom of the page as to do so would mean you would be registered as a Service voter (see paragraph 18). 
  3. You will be given the opportunity to apply for a postal or proxy vote but this will involve completing and signing a separate offline application form. If you choose to apply for a postal vote an application will be automatically emailed to you if you have provided your email address. You will then need to print, complete, and return the form. If you have not provided your email address, or if you wish to vote by proxy, a form will be posted to your correspondence address. 
  4. If you choose to vote by proxy once you are individually registered under IER your proxy will also need to be individually registered. 

Register to vote offline. Personnel who are unable or do not wish to register to vote online can continue to use a paper registration form. Paper registration forms are available from local Electoral Registration Offices. 

Register as an Overseas Voter

Registration address: If you are posted overseas and you do not wish to register as a Service Voter you can register as an Overseas Voter. This option is available to all British citizens who live abroad but have been registered as electors in Britain within the last 15 years. The disadvantage of being an Overseas voter is that you can vote only in UK Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections, not local elections in the UK. It is important to note that your ability to register as an Overseas voter expires 15 years after the time you were last registered in the UK. 

Keeping your registration up to date: If you are registered as an Overseas voter you should receive an annual renewal notification from the Electoral Registration Office in the area where you are registered to vote, usually 9 to 10 months after your last registration. If you move you should keep your Electoral Registration Office up to date to ensure reminders and ballot papers etc. are sent to you at the correct address. 

Register to vote online: To register online as an Overseas Voter you should visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and note the following: 

  1. You will need to have your National Insurance number to hand before you start the online registration process. 
  2. Do not click on the ‘Armed Forces’ link towards the bottom of the page as to do so would mean you would be registered as a Service voter (see paragraph 18). 
  3. At the first question select “British citizen living in another country (including the Channel Islands or Isle of Man)” before continuing the rest of the online application process. 

Register to vote offline: Personnel who are unable or do not wish to register to vote online can continue to use a paper registration form. Paper registration forms are available from local Electoral Registration Offices. 

Eligible Personnel 

To be eligible to register to vote, individuals must meet the following criteria: 

  1. Be over 16 years of age (although an individual cannot actually vote until their 18th birthday); and 
  2. Be a United Kingdom or Commonwealth citizen, or a citizen of the Irish Republic or of another European Union member state. However, citizens of European Union member states other than the United Kingdom, Irish Republic, Malta or Cyprus are only eligible to vote in Local Government elections and European Parliamentary elections and not in UK Parliamentary elections. Commonwealth citizens must either have leave to remain in the UK or not require such leave. Service personnel have that leave while in service, however their spouse or civil partner should check their circumstances. 

Reserve Personnel 

Reservists (other than those mobilized and rendering continuous full time service) are not eligible for registration as Service Voters under the foregoing arrangements. 

When they are eligible, reservists can be registered as ordinary voters at their home addresses and will be entitled to apply to be absent voters (i.e. to vote by post or by appointing a proxy) if at any particular election they are likely to be prevented from casting a vote in person owing to their service as reservists, e.g. if they are absent from home on training. 

Multiple Registrations 

Because of the mobile nature of Service life, it is possible that Service personnel may be registered more than once (i.e. registered at a new duty station without cancelling a previous registration). In these circumstances, personnel should be aware that, although it is permissible to be registered to vote with more than one Electoral Registration Office, it is an offence to vote twice in any one election. 

How do I cast my vote? 

Once registered to vote, individuals may cast their vote in one of the three following ways: 

In person: At your polling station if you are in the area where you are registered to vote on the date of the election. 

By post: Your ballot paper will be sent to your nominated address before the date of the election and, providing it is completed correctly and returned in time, your vote will be counted. Depending on where you are serving there is a risk that you will not be able to return your ballot before voting closes due to the time taken to deliver and return a postal ballot paper. Following changes to the electoral timetable in 2014 postal ballot papers can now be dispatched as early as 19 working days before an election however, in practice this is likely to be a little later to allow time for ballot papers to be proofed and printed before dispatch. Local Authorities are advised by the Electoral Commission to prioritize the dispatch of postal ballot papers to overseas and BFPO locations, but notwithstanding this, voting by post may not be the best way to vote where personnel are or are likely to be overseas or deployed on the date of the election. If personnel are serving in locations where it is unlikely that they will be able to receive and return their postal ballot paper in time for it to be counted, they are advised to appoint a proxy. 

By Proxy: This is where you ask someone you know and trust to vote on your behalf. Your proxy can either vote for you at your polling station or by post. Your proxy must be aged 18 or over and must be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of another European Union state. If you have appointed a proxy, you can still vote in person as long as your proxy has not already voted for you or applied to vote for you by post. 

​JPA Records 

The MOD maintains a record of how Service personnel are registered to vote. All Service personnel are encouraged to use the facility within their personal JPA file to record whether they are registered to vote. 

To do this: click on the “Electoral Information” entry under the “Extra Information Types” heading of the “JPA Self Service – Employee, Armed Forces” page. The record allows you to record whether you are registered, how you are registered (Ordinary or Service voter) and when you last registered. This record is completed on a voluntary basis only and so you may also record the fact that you decline to record this information. 

Last Updated: Feb 17, 2021 @ 4:15 pm

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