Elections Act 2022

Implications for voters, candidates, and political parties

A press notice on Royal Assent of the Act was published on gov.uk on 28 April, and the House of Commons Library has updated its briefing on the passage of the Act. Much of the detail for implementation of the Elections Act will be set out in secondary legislation, which will be made over the course of 2022/23 now that the primary legislation has received Royal Assent.

Significant changes have been introduced by this legislation which include:

Voter Identification

  • Electors needing to show an approved form of photo identity before voting in a polling station, the ID does not have to be valid provided the likeness is still true.
  • Anyone without suitable photo identification, such as a passport, driving licence or national bus pass, will be able to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate (VAC) from January 2023.
  • Will be in force from the May 2023 elections

Accessibility at polling stations

  • Additional support will be provided to voters with disabilities at polling stations.
  • Voters with a disability can be assisted by anyone in future over the age of 18.
  • Will be in force from the May 2023 elections

Absent voting - postal and proxy voting

  • Political parties and campaigners banned from handling postal votes.
  • There will be a limit of 6 postal votes a person can hand in at a polling station.
  • Postal voters will need to make a fresh application every 3 years, instead of the 5-yearly signature refresh.
  • 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.
  • Applications will require identity verification - both online and paper applications will include a requirement for the applicant's identity to be verified.
  • Secrecy and postal vote handling rules expected to be in place after May 2023 polls.
  • Change to the three yearly application process will be transitional, starting from January 2024
  • Postal vote application and new proxy limit expected after May 2024 polls.
  • Electors will be able to apply online for an absent vote.
  • The online application service is estimated to be available from July 2023

EU Citizens' Voting and Candidacy Rights

  • EU citizens will no longer automatically be entitled to register, vote, and stand for election.
  • Two groups of EU citizens will retain their rights:
    1. 'Qualifying EU citizens' from countries with reciprocal agreements, and who have leave, or do not require it, to remain in the UK - currently Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain
    2. 'EU citizens with retained rights' who were resident in the UK before 1 January 2021 - i.e., before the UK left the EU
  • Applies to all local elections and referendums in England and to the Police and Crime Commissioner elections
  • Expected to be in place for the May 2024 Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner elections here in Essex. These elections will also now be First Past the Post so electors will no longer have a second choice on the ballot paper.

Overseas Electors

  • The arbitrary 15-year limit on British citizens living abroad is removed.
  • Overseas electors will be able to register at an address where they were previously registered OR even never registered, where they were last resident.
  • The registration period is extended from one year to three.
  • Expected to be in place by May 2024