How Military Personnel Can Register To Vote

It is less than a month until the 2019 General Election on Thursday 12 December. Since it was announced, more than two million people have applied to register to vote, according to Government figures. Armed Forces personnel, their partners and dependants can vote just like civilians as long as they are registered and over 18 years old. Whether members of the military are based at home or posted overseas, they can still cast their ballot.

Information

Anyone wishing to register to vote can visit on the Government website or the Electoral Commission. Service voters will need the following information in order to register:

  • their address
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • service ID

How Can I Register To Vote If I Am Overseas?

Military personnel and their families likely to be posted overseas can vote by registering as a ‘service voter’. It allows the person to register themselves at a fixed UK address, even when moving around abroad. Service voter registration lasts for five years, so if someone has registered in this way during the last five years then there will be no need to reapply. 

While abroad, votes can be cast by post or via proxy, the latter meaning when a person nominates another to vote on their behalf. The Electoral Commission website suggests a proxy vote may be the best option for those living outside the UK, to avoid potential delays when casting postal votes.

What If You Are Serving In The UK?

For military personnel and their families based in the UK who are unlikely to be posted overseas, they can choose to register as an ‘ordinary elector’. Anyone registered in this way can vote in person, as well as by postal and proxy. Unlike those based abroad, personnel in the UK must register separately for every election rather than registering for five-year periods.

The deadline to register is the same for civilians, 11:59 pm on 26 November – seven hours after the deadline for overseas military personnel. Personnel and their families will receive a polling card ahead of the election which will include information on how and where to place their vote. 

Register By

Anyone wishing to vote by post in England, Scotland or Wales must register by 5 pm on 26 November. For those based in Northern Ireland, the deadline is 5 pm on 21 November. For proxy votes in England, Scotland and Wales, the cut-off for registration is 5 pm on 4 December. For proxy voting in Northern Ireland, the deadline is 5 pm on 21 November. The Electoral Commission suggests those living outside the UK that it may be better to cast a proxy vote. 

Its website states “postal votes may only be sent out about a week before election day”, which could mean there may not enough time for the postal vote to be cast and returned in time. The Electoral Commission says each military unit has a ‘Unit Registration Officer’ who can provide further information and advice.

In 2018, the results of the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey found 86% of participants were registered to vote. The report revealed a steady increase in personnel registering to vote between 2012 and 2018.  However, officers had a much higher proportion of registered voters (96%). Eighty-three per cent of other ranks were registered to vote – up from 76% in 2016 and 63% in 2012. More from Forces News