16th February 2024
Changes to elections and voting
Important changes to the voting system
Important changes to voting
Due to the Elections Act 2022 there have been big changes to the way that elections are run that will impact voters, candidates, and political parties. Visit the Gov.uk website to find out more about the Elections Act 2022.
Electors must now show an approved form of photo ID to vote in a polling station. Photo ID that can be used to vote include passport, driving licence, biometric immigration document, blue badge, concessionary travel pass (excluding railcards) and national ID card. Electors without an official form of photo identification can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate.
You can find out more about voter ID and a full list of accepted photo ID on our Voter ID page.
Postal and proxy voting
You can now complete a postal or proxy vote application online:
Find out more about these changes on our voting by post or proxy page.
Current secrecy requirements will now include all postal and proxy voting:
- For postal voting:
Political parties and campaigners will be banned from handling postal votes. If you are a postal voter, once received, you should complete and return your ballot paper pack as soon as possible using a Royal Mail post box.
If you miss the post, you can hand it in at the Council Offices, Shute End, Wokingham (during office hours) or your polling station on election day.
Choosing to hand in your postal vote will mean that you must complete an additional form with an authorised member of our staff. If you do not, your postal vote will be rejected. Voters will not be allowed to hand in more than 5 postal ballot packs (in addition to their own).
- For proxy voting:
Electors will only be allowed to act as proxy for up to 4 people, of which no more than 2 can be 'domestic electors' - i.e. not overseas voters.
Changes for overseas electors – January 2024:
From January 2024, the 15-year limit on British citizens living abroad will end. Any British citizen previously registered to vote in the UK, or who previously lived in the UK, will be able to register to vote, regardless of how long they've lived abroad.
- British citizens living abroad will be able to register to vote using the address where they were previously registered. If they were never registered to vote, they can register using the last UK address they lived at.
- British citizens living abroad will no longer have to register as an overseas voter every year. Instead, they will have to register every 3 years.
Changes to voting system - May 2024:
For Police and Crime Commissioner Elections the system will change from the 'supplementary vote system' to the 'simple majority voting system', also known as 'first past the post.'
This means that you only vote for one candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins. They do not have to get a certain number of votes, they just have to get more than any other candidate.
Changes for EU citizens - Autumn 2024:
From Autumn 2024, EU (European Union) citizens will no longer automatically be entitled to register, vote, or stand for election. This applies to all local elections and referendums in England and Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
Two groups of EU citizens will retain their voting rights:
- Qualifying EU citizens - These are EU citizens from countries with reciprocal agreements with the UK and who have ‘leave to remain’ in the UK or do not require such leave. Currently we have reciprocal agreements with Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. This means that the same rules apply in both the UK and that country. For example, a Spanish citizen in the UK could vote or stand for election in the UK, and a UK citizen in Spain could vote or stand for election in Spain.
- EU citizens with retained rights - These are EU citizens who were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 - i.e. before the UK left the EU.
Accessibility at polling stations - what's new:
Voters with disabilities can now access extra assistance in polling stations. This means that anyone over the age of 18 can attend the polling station to support a disabled voter.