Elections Act 2022 - What you need to know

The UK Government has implemented significant changes to the electoral system, via the the Elections Act 2022.

One of the biggest changes will be the requirement for individuals to show photographic identification (such as a passport or driving licence) when they vote at a polling station.  

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

What has changed?

Since May 2023 it has been required to show an official form of photographic identification (ID) when you vote in person at a polling station, a list of acceptable ID documents is included below.

If you own an accepted form of photographic ID but it has expired it can still be used, as long as the photograph is still a good likeness of you.

If you do not have any of the accepted forms of ID 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. Please use the following link:

If you need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate, make sure you do so in good time ahead of it being required at the polling station.

Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • A passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country
  • A driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or an EEA state
  • A biometric immigration document
  • An identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)
  • Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)
  • A Blue Badge
  • A national identity card issued by an EEA state
  • An Older Person’s Bus Pass
  • A Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
  • An Oyster 60+ Card
  • A Freedom Pass

Accessibility at Polling Stations

The new law made it easier for voters with disabilities to vote. Voters with disabilities can now receive extra support at polling stations and anyone over the age of 18 can now act as a companion for a voter with a disability.

If you wear a face covering, you will be asked to remove it to check your photo ID is a true likeness. Don’t worry, we have privacy screens available in all polling stations and a female member of staff will assist you. Alternatively, if you would prefer not to go to a polling station to vote, you can apply for a postal or proxy vote.

You do not need photo ID to apply to vote by post or proxy.  However, the person you trust and appoint to vote on your behalf as a proxy will need to show photo ID.

We have put together a list of links to help you as a voter understand the process.

Tailored resources to support people who are likely to need support to prepare for the new Voter ID requirement:

Changes after 4 May 2023

Absent Voting

*The way to apply for an absent vote has changed*

There are currently two types of absent voting – postal voting and proxy voting.

Postal voting

If you are registered to vote but unable to vote in person on the day of the election (eg if you’re away from home or you’re abroad), you can apply for a postal vote. The easiest way to apply for a postal vote is online at: www.gov.uk/apply-postal-vote

When you apply for a postal vote, you will now need to provide proof of your identity. Applications will require ID verification (DOB, National Insurance Number and Signature)

You can apply for a postal vote or cancel your postal vote up to 11 working days before the election. You will need to renew your postal vote every 3 years by resubmitting a new postal vote application.

If you live abroad and are registered, you can apply for a postal vote but you need to make sure you have time to receive and return your postal pack on polling day.

From May 2024, only voters, a family member or a designated carer will be able to hand in a postal vote pack. There will also be a limit on the number of postal vote packs that you can hand in at a polling station. Voters will not be allowed to hand in more than five postal vote packs (in addition to their own).

Proxy voting

If you’re unable to vote in person you can ask someone to vote on your behalf. This is called a proxy vote.

You can apply for a proxy vote if:

  • You are unable to go to the polling station for one particular election, for example, if you are away on holiday
  • You have a physical condition that means you cannot go to the polling station on election day
  • Your employment means that you cannot go to the polling station on election day
  • Your attendance on an educational course means that you cannot go to the polling station on election day
  • You are a British citizen living overseas
  • You are a crown servant or a member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces

There are different forms depending on the reason that you need a proxy vote. If you live abroad and are registered, you can also apply for a proxy vote. The easiest way to apply for a postal vote is online at:www.gov.uk/apply-proxy-vote

Under the new rules, there is now a limit to the number of people that can act as a proxy. Voters would be limited to acting as a proxy for two people, regardless of their relationship. Anyone voting on behalf of UK voters who live overseas could act as a proxy for up to four people.

Please make sure your trusted person is able to act as a proxy for you by visiting the Electoral Commission website: Apply to vote by proxy | Electoral Commission

Postal vote handling and secrecy

From 01 December 2023, 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 6 postal votes. Political parties and campaigners will be prevented from handing in postal votes.

A ban and new criminal offence will be in place to stop parties and campaigners handling completed postal votes and postal vote envelopes on behalf of electors. Only voters, a family member or a designated carer will be able to hand in a postal vote.

Ministers will get new powers to make regulations to limit the number of postal ballot packs that someone can hand in on behalf of other voters and would also require postal votes to be rejected if they are not handed in in accordance with the requirements.

Rights of EU citizens for voting and candidacy

From 07 May 2024, EU citizens will no longer automatically be entitled to register, vote or stand for election. Two groups of EU citizens will keep these rights;

  • 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 in England, all elections for council and combined authority mayors, and Police and Crime Commissioner elections. These changes are expected to take place by spring 2024.

Overseas electors

From January 2024, the 15-year limit on voting for British citizens living overseas is ending soon. Going forward any British citizen, who was 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 have lived abroad.

The renewal period for overseas electors changed from one to three years. The easiest way to register as an overseas elector is online at: Register to vote - GOV.UK 

Support for voters with disabilities

The Electoral Commission has issued two guides to support voters:

The guides can also be used by supporters of people with a learning disability or sight loss to help the person they support to take part and vote in the elections.