Elections Act 2022
The UK government is implementing 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
The biggest change will be the need for electors to show photographic identification (such as a passport or drivers’ licence) when they vote at a polling station. Check examples of acceptable voter identification.
The following sections are a summary of the changes with further information due to be published throughout 2023 and this page will be updated when this occurs.
The first changes will come into force for those areas that will be holding scheduled elections on Thursday 4 May 2023.
Tower Hamlets does not have scheduled polls on Thursday 4 May 2023, but any polls held after that date will have to comply with the new requirements.
You can find out more about the Elections Act 2022 by visiting the UK Government website.
There has been an expansion on the offence of undue influence scheduled to come into force on 1 November 2023.
- A person will be guilty of a corrupt practice if guilty of undue influence.
- A person will be guilty of undue influence if that person carries out an activity listed below in paragraph 4 for the purpose of
- inducing or compelling a person to vote in a particular way or to refrain from voting, or
- otherwise impeding or preventing the free exercise of the franchise of an elector or of a proxy for an elector.
- 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
- a person having voted in a particular way or refrained from voting, or
- assuming a person to have voted in a particular way or to have refrained from voting
- 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 will be in place from Thursday 4 May 2023.
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.
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 for the May 2023 elections.
Voter ID will also be introduced for postal voters, and people appointing a proxy in the summer of 2023.
Not all EU citizens will automatically be entitled to register, vote, or stand for election.
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)
This change will apply to all local elections and referendums, all elections for council and combined authority mayors, and Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
These changes are expected to take place by spring 2024.
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
The 15 year limit on voting for British citizens living overseas is to end.
In future, any British citizen, who has been previously registered to vote in the UK or resident in the UK, will be able to apply to register to vote regardless of how long they have lived abroad.
The renewal period for overseas electors will change from 1 to 3 years.
We expect that these changes will take place by May 2024, but the precise dates are yet to be confirmed by government.
We expect that the changes to absent voting will come into force from Thursday 4 May 2023. 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 will be set up. This will enable you to apply for a postal or proxy vote, and verify your identity, online.
Currently if you vote by post you are required to refresh your signature every five years. This will be changed to having to renew your postal vote every three years. If you hand in your postal vote at a polling station on the day of the election, you will only be allowed to hand in a maximum of six postal votes.
Political parties and campaigners will be prevented from handing in postal votes.
You will only be able to act as a proxy for a maximum of four people. Of these four, the maximum number who can be ‘domestic electors’ (voters living in the UK) is 2.
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':
- Voter Authority Certificate (VAC)
- temporary Voter Authority Certificate, which the Tower Hamlets Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) will have the discretion to provide in contingency situations.
- 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
- 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
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).
- 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