AFF is determined that, as per the Armed Forces Covenant, all eligible families are able to vote and exercise their democratic rights, which your soldier helps to defend.
You need to register by 22 May to be able to vote in the UK general election on the 8th June. You can register either as a Service voter or in your local constituency.
If you’re posted overseas, you may be concerned about the short timescale for postal voting and we’re aware that many of you do not view proxy voting as a viable option. Due to the tight turnaround, it may be wise to appoint a proxy on this occasion if you can as it’s highly unlikely that ballot papers can be returned in time. The deadline for registering to vote by proxy is 5pm on Wednesday 31 May.
We understand this will be a frustrating situation for many of you, and we will be campaigning hard to make sure that this does not happen again in the future.
Find more information on how you can vote whether in person, by post or by proxy on the Your Vote Matters website.
Voting in the UK has also thrown up some confusion for Army families, as highlighted by one reader who contacted us with their voting concerns…
Within weeks of moving into our SFA in Paisley, we received local voter registration forms. As I was already registered as a Forces voter at an English address – having re-registered in early 2016 – I didn’t act on the letters believing that, as a Forces voter, I wouldn’t need to update my registration details until 2019.
When the letters became bossier in tone, with the admonishment in bold red print that I could be fined £80 for failing to register, I called the number provided to inform that I was registered already as a Forces voter at another UK address. The very abrupt and unhelpful person I spoke to told me that, by law, I had to re-register in Scotland. I couldn’t find anything to back up this claim, but the letters kept coming so I just opted to register locally. I have regretted doing so ever since and continue to be of the opinion that I was entitled to remain registered at my previous address, for the purposes of voting as an Armed Forces voter, for up to three years from the last date of registration.
Since the announcement of a snap general election, and with a looming voter registration deadline of 22 May, I now find myself even more concerned about the fact that I have been coerced to change my voting address when it may not have been necessary to do so.
Additionally, as I know we will be moving in early 2018 and that there is a very high probability that we will be posted overseas again, I am strongly inclined to update my voter registration details so that I am registered as an Armed Forces voter and that I have a nominated proxy to vote on my behalf. It is my hope that by updating my voter registration details with immediate effect I would be able to ensure that:
- I am not denied the chance to vote for a representative of my choice, both now and in the future;
- I do not find myself unable to complete paperwork when living at a location that does not have a reliable postal service – the main factor that prevented me from voting in 2010, 2015 and 2016.
My concern is that, because I’ve already registered in Scotland and my SFA address is my primary address (we do not own or live in our own home), I cannot re-register as an Armed Forces voter and nominate a proxy voter.
I would appreciate some clear-cut advice on this.
Name and address supplied.
Response from Emma Hartley, Electoral Commission Head of Campaigns: You are quite correct that you were entitled to remain registered as a Service vote; in fact you are exactly the kind of person that is suited to that type of registration given how frequently you move around.
You would of course be perfectly able to complete an application to register as a Service voter again, which would then last for five years. That way, you will be able to remain registered at an address in the UK no matter where in the world your soldier is serving.
Any member of an Armed Forces family, meeting requirements, is able to register as a Service voter at an address in England which will then last for five years, even if they are currently serving elsewhere in the UK.
Every base has a dedicated unit registration officer who is on hand to answer any queries about taking part in elections as a member of the Armed Forces. Alternatively, readers can contact the Electoral Commission on firstname.lastname@example.org if they need any information on voting.
If you have any concerns, contact your local AFF Co-ordinator, whose details can be found at www.aff.org.uk