Changes to voting in elections

The government is making changes to UK elections and the way we vote.

A new law called the Elections Act is expected to affect elections from 2023, for:

  • your local councillors (both Watford Borough Ward and Hertfordshire County Electoral Division)
  • your Elected Mayor
  • your Member of Parliament
  • the Police, Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire

What you will need to vote from April

The law will require you to show photo ID when you want to vote at a polling station. This will be an approved form of photo ID such as:

  • a photo driving licence
  • passport
  • any expired ID documents will be accepted if the photo is still a good likeness of you

If you don't have an approved ID, you'll need to apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate (VAC).

Voters will be able to apply online for a VAC through a new government website from January 2023.

For further details on the proposed changes please see:

Postal Votes

If you apply to vote by post it is expected that you will need to:

  • include proof of identity when applying
  • make a new application every three years

It is expected that you’ll be able to apply online for a postal vote through a government website from July 2023.

You'll only be allowed to hand in postal votes at a polling station for:

  • yourself
  • your family members
  • persons for whom you are a designated carer
  • no more than six people in total

Political parties and campaigners will be banned from handling voters' postal votes.

Full details are still to be set out in law.  For further details on the proposed changes please see:

Electoral Commission: Postal Votes

Proxy Votes

If you wish to appoint somebody to vote for you (proxy vote) it is expected that you will need to:

  • include proof of identity when applying
  • make a new application every three years

It's expected that you’ll be able to apply online for a proxy vote through a government website from July 2023.

You'll only be allowed to act as proxy for up to four people of who no more than two can be based in the UK.

Full details of this requirement are still to be set out in law.  For further details on the proposed changes please see:

Electoral Commission: Proxy Votes

Support for people with a disability

From May 2023, there will be more support at polling stations for voters with disabilities.

Voters with a disability can be assisted in future by anyone over the age of 18 years old.

British citizens who live abroad

There is currently a 15-year limit for eligible overseas citizens. The government is proposing to change this so that eligible British citizens can register and vote at UK Parliamentary elections if:

  • living abroad and previously lived in the UK
  • previously been registered to vote in the UK

It's proposed that overseas voters will be able to register using an address either:

  • where they were previously registered; or
  • where they were last resident, even if they had not registered to vote while there

This change is expected to be in place for elections from May 2024. For further information please see:

Electoral Commission: Overseas Voting

EU citizens who live in the UK

The government is proposing the following changes:

EU citizens who were living in the UK before 1 January 2021 will keep their right to register, vote and stand in elections.

Those who have arrived in the UK since 1 January 2021 would have these rights only if they are citizens of an EU country with which the UK has agreed the same rights for UK citizens. This is known as a 'reciprocal arrangement'.

This change is expected to be in place for elections from May 2024. For further information please see:

Electoral Commission: EU Citizens changes

Elected Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Elections

From May 2024, it is expected that Watford’s Elected Mayor and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire will be elected using a 'first past the post' voting system.

That means the candidate who gets the most votes is the winner. You'll no longer be asked to make a second choice on the ballot paper.

You can find full details of all proposed legislation changes at:

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