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Electoral registers are public documents that are open to inspection.

What is anonymous electoral regisrtation?

Anonymous registration allows people whose safety would be at risk if their name or address were listed on the electoral register to register to vote without their details made public, for example survivors of domestic abuse.

Application requirements

An application must be submitted to an electoral registration officer in writing and must provide certain evidence that the person applying is at risk.

The required evidence must be either:

  • A current court order including an interdict, non-harassment order, a forced marriage protection order, an injunction, a restraining order a domestic violence protection order or a female genital mutilation protection order.

The types of order or injunction are set out in law, therefore other types of court orders cannot be accepted as evidence.

Or: 

  • An attestation from a qualifying officer supporting the application. An attestation is a statement that if the applicant’s name and address were on the register, the applicant’s or another member of the household’s safety would be at risk. Attestations must be in writing and must be signed and dated by the qualifying officer who must specify a period between one and five years for which it has effect.

A qualifying officer must be a refuge manager, registered medical practitioner (for example GP, nurse or midwife), a senior social worker, a police officer above the rank of Inspector or the Director General of the Security Services or the National Crime Agency

Woman’s Aid provides guidance issued by the Electoral Commission on anonymous registration. It is available for download on its web page, Anonymous registration for survivors of domestic abuse.

This briefing lists the types of court order and qualifying officers in Section 2. They are also available on the paper registration application form for anonymous registration.

Background 

The system for registering anonymously was introduce in 2006. The level of evidence had been criticised by some for making anonymous registration too difficult or complex for many. Women’s Aid criticised the system, saying that for women living in a refuge it was “an almost insurmountable challenge” to register to vote as many women did not involve the police or courts and the very senior levels of qualifying officers meant that it was difficult for survivors to access them.

In 2018 changes were introduced that were aimed to make anonymous registration more accessible for those that needed it.

In 2016 the Government committed to consult on reform. In March 2017 it produced a policy document, A democracy that works for everyone: survivors of domestic abuse Policy Statement, which contained proposals to extend the number of court orders that could be used as evidence.

It also proposed increasing the number of people able to act as qualifying officer. This included lowering the rank of police officer required to allow an officer to attest. The proposals also considered adding more junior social workers, refuge managers and registered health professionals to the list of qualifying officers able to attest.


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