Elections Act 2022

The UK government has implemented significant changes to the current electoral system.

The Elections Act 2022 outlines several measures which will affect the way that you vote and how elections are conducted in Tower Hamlets.

In addition, the Act contains measures that also affect

campaigning and the rules on campaign spending and funding and

the parliamentary oversight of the Electoral Commission

Arguably, the biggest change is the requirement for electors to show photographic identification (such as a passport or drivers’ licence) when they vote at a polling station.

View examples of acceptable voter identification.

The following sections are a summary of the changes with further information due to be published throughout 2024 and this page will be updated when this occurs.

The first changes came into force for those areas that held scheduled elections on Thursday 4 May 2023 and for Tower hamlets will come into force at the Greater London Authority (GLA) poll on Thursday 2 May 2024.

Any polls held after that date will then have to comply with the new requirements.

You can find out more about the Elections Act 2022 by visiting the UK Government website


From May 2023 the voting system, at the elections listed below, will be changing from a supplementary vote system to a simple majority voting system.

This is traditionally known as ‘first past the post’ where you vote for one candidate only and the candidate with the most votes will win.

Candidates will no longer have to secure a certain number of votes; they will just have to win more votes than any other candidate.

The voting system will be changed in all elections for: 

  • local authority (council) mayors in England
  • combined authority mayors
  • Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales
  • the London Mayor

There has been an expansion on the offence of undue influence that came into force on 1 November 2023.

  1. a person will be guilty of a corrupt practice if guilty of undue influence.
  2. a person will be guilty of undue influence if that person carries out an activity listed below in paragraph 4 for the purpose of
    1. inducing or compelling a person to vote in a particular way or to refrain from voting, or
    2. otherwise impeding or preventing the free exercise of the franchise of an elector or of a proxy for an elector.
  3. a person is also guilty of undue influence if that person carries out an activity falling within any of the activities listed from (a) to (f) on account of
    1. a person having voted in a particular way or refrained from voting, or
    2. assuming a person to have voted in a particular way or to have refrained from voting
  4. the activities are as follows
    a) using or threatening to use violence against a person
    b) damaging or destroying, or threatening to damage or destroy, a person’s property
    c)damaging or threatening to damage a person’s reputation
    d) causing or threatening to cause financial loss to a person
    e) causing spiritual injury to, or placing undue spiritual pressure on, a person
    f) doing any other act designed to intimidate a person
    g) doing any act designed to deceive a person in relation to the administration of an election.

For the purposes of (2) and (3) above an activity is carried out if it is

  • a) by that person
  • b) by that person jointly with one or more other persons, or
  • c) by one or more other persons on behalf of that person, with that person’s authority or consent.

In 4.f. & 4.g. above, “act” includes an omission (and references to the doing of an act are to be read accordingly).


The new law will make it easier for voters with disabilities to vote.

Changes are now in place.

Voters with disabilities will be given extra support at polling stations and proposals will allow anyone over the age of 18 to act as a companion for a voter with a disability. 


All electors, who vote at a polling station, will be required to show an accepted form of photographic identification from Thursday 4 May 2023 before they receive a ballot paper and then cast their vote.

In Tower Hamlets this will occur for the first time from Thursday 2 May 2024 at the GLA polls.

There are no exceptions to this requirement and will also include those who are registered as anonymous electors. 

If you act as a proxy for an elector, you will also need to show ID but will not have to provide ID for the person you are acting as a proxy for.

There is currently no requirement for postal voters to provide identification.


From 7 May 2024 (five days after the 2024 elections held on 2 May 2024), there will be changes to the voting and candidacy rights for EU citizens.

What will change?

EU Citizens currently have an automatic right to register to vote, to vote and stand in local election here in Tower Hamlets but from 7 May, this automatic right will be removed.

Instead, the right to stand and vote at local elections will be reserved only for some EU citizens.

The exceptions are:

  • Qualifying EU citizens who come from countries which have reciprocal agreements with the UK (currently this is Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and Spain)
  • EU citizens with retained rights, who were living in the UK before 1 January 2021 (before the UK left the EU).

The 15 year limit on voting for British citizens living overseas has been replaced.

Any British citizen, who has previously been registered to vote in the UK or resident in the UK, will now be able to apply to register to vote regardless of how long they have lived abroad.

The renewal period for overseas electors has also changed from 1 to 3 years.

You can also register to vote as an overseas elector on GOV.UK.


Changes to proxy voting came into force on 31 October. These include:

  • you can now apply online for some types of proxy vote
  • your identity will be checked as part of the application process. Both online and paper application will require ID verification (except for emergency proxy votes). 
  • there is now a limit to the amount of people someone can be a proxy for. You can act as a proxy for two people.
  • if you vote on behalf of UK voters who live overseas, you can act as a proxy for up to four people (but only two of those can live in the UK).

Changes to absent voting have now been introduced. If you are applying to vote by post or by proxy, you will be asked to provide proof of your identity. 

A new online application service is now live, and this will enable you to apply for a postal or proxy vote and verify your identity online.

Postal voting

New provisions are due to take effect in time for the May 2024 local elections. The provisions restrict who can handle postal votes, how many postal votes can be handed in at polling stations and other venues and set out a process for handing in postal votes.

Who can’t handle postal votes?

Political campaigners will be banned from handling postal votes, except where the postal vote is their own or that of a close family member or someone who they provide care for. Postal workers or others who handle postal votes as part of their usual duties are also exempt. 

Political campaigners contravening this rule will be committing an offence and if found guilty could face a fine and/or imprisonment for up to two years.

What are the new limits for handing in postal votes?

People who are not political campaigners can still hand in postal votes at polling stations or into council buildings (depending on local arrangements). However, they will now be limited to handing in no more than five postal votes for other electors, plus their own postal vote per election.

People handing in postal votes will also have to complete a ‘return of postal voting documents’ form, which includes some personal information (name and address) and will also need to complete a declaration.

What happens if someone doesn’t follow the rules?

Postal votes may be rejected if people don’t follow the rules when handing in postal votes. This means they will not be counted in the election, but electors whose postal votes are rejected will be informed in writing that their vote has been rejected and why following the election.

Postal votes will be rejected if:

  • too many postal votes are handed in
  • there is reason to suspect a person has already handed in the maximum number of postal votes at the election
  • the postal votes are handed in or left without a completed form.

These rules apply to all postal votes not posted through Royal Mail e.g. posting votes directly into a council building or into a council post box, which is not Royal Mail, will need an accompanying form.

What should postal voters do then?

The best advice is to post postal votes through Royal Mail as soon as possible. If a person must hand in a postal vote in person, they should make sure to hand it in somewhere where a postal vote handing-in form is available and where the Returning Officer  is accepting postal votes.

Do not use unstaffed post boxes in any council buildings that are not Royal Mail.

What’s changing about secrecy requirements?

Voters at polling stations are protected by secrecy requirements set out in Section 66 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. This states that no member of electoral staff or a person supporting a voter may communicate information about the candidate the voter voted for. 

It is an offence to try to find out how someone has voted in a polling station and to photograph ballot papers in polling stations. The Elections Act 2022 extended these requirements to apply to postal and proxy votes as well as votes cast in polling stations.

What happens if someone breaches these new rules?

Anyone found guilty of breaching these secrecy requirements could face a fine or imprisonment for up to six months.


Accepted forms of identification are set out in Schedule 1 of the Elections Act 2022. This list includes ‘an electoral identity document’ issued under section 13BD of the Act.

Voter Authority Certificate

If you do not have any of the accepted forms of ID, listed below, you will be able to apply online for a free Voter Authority Certificate – this is a photographic identity document specifically for the purpose of voting.

There will be three varieties of this ‘electoral identity document':

  1. Voter Authority Certificate (VAC)
  2. temporary Voter Authority Certificate, which the Tower Hamlets Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) will have the discretion to provide in contingency situations.
  3. an Anonymous Electors Document (AED), for use by anonymous electors only 

Registered anonymous electors will be required to apply for an AED as this will be the ONLY accepted form of voter ID for anonymous electors at polling stations.

Anonymous electors will be invited to apply for the AED in January 2023.

The Voter Authority Certificate is expected to be an A4 paper-based document, with appropriate security features, displaying

  • the elector’s name
  • photograph
  • date of issue
  • issuing local authority
  • an ‘identifier’ (i.e., an alphanumerical reference) and
  • recommended renewal date.

The deadline for applications for Voter Authority Certificates will be 5pm, 6 working days ahead of a poll. For those who apply for a Voter Authority Certificate the application service will be as follows:

  • a GOV.UK Voter Authority Certificate Service – an online application service, provided by central government on the GOV.UK website, where you can submit your application for a Voter Authority Certificate online.
  • an alternative paper application form designed by the Electoral Commission, allowing you to make your application for a Voter Authority Certificate on paper which can be posted or handed to the ERO at the Town Hall.

The online application portal will be hosted on a secure government portal with expectation that the Voter Authority Certificate Service will be launched in time for a commencement date of 16 January 2023.


If you own an accepted form of photographic ID you do not need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate (Voter ID).

If your photographic ID document has expired it can still be used, if the photograph is still a good likeness of you.


  • a United Kingdom passport
  • a passport issued by an EEA state or Commonwealth country
  • If you do not have a passport you can apply here on this link
  • You can apply for a UK passport

Driving licence (including provisional licences)

  • a licence to drive a motor vehicle granted under 15(i) Part 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, or (ii) the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (SI 1981/154 (N.I. 1))
  • a driving licence issued by any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an EEA state
  • If you have lost your driving licence you can apply for a new one

Immigration document

A biometric immigration document issued in accordance with regulations under section 5 of the UK Borders Act 2007.

Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) hologram

An identity card bearing the proof of age standards scheme hologram

You can  apply for a PASS Card

Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)

Commonly known as a MOD90.

Concessionary travel passes

This list sets out all concessionary travel cards that will be accepted, to avoid any confusion amongst electors. These include:

  • An older persons travel pass (UK Government)
  • disabled persons' bus pass
  • Oyster 60+ card
  • Freedom Pass
  • National Entitlement Card (Scottish Government)
  • 60 and over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card (Welsh Government)
  • Disabled Person's Welsh Concessionary Travel Card (Welsh Government)
  • a Senior SmartPass (Northern Ireland)
  • a Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person’s SmartPass (Northern Ireland)
  • a War Disablement SmartPass or War Disabled SmartPass (Northern Ireland)
  • a 60+ SmartPass (Northern Ireland)
  • a Half Fare SmartPass (Northern Ireland)

Chronically sick or disabled

A badge of a form prescribed under section 21 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 or section 14 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 (blue badge scheme).

Electoral documents

  • an electoral identity document issued under section 13BD (electoral identity document: Great Britain)
  • an anonymous elector’s document issued under section
  • 513BE (anonymous elector’s document: Great Britain) the holder of which has an anonymous entry at the time of the application for a ballot paper
  • an electoral identity card issued under section 13C (electoral identity card: Northern Ireland)
  • a national identity card issued by an EEA state