People can formally apply to be placed on the electoral register as anonymous electors. They need to meet the normal legal requirements to be on the electoral register (age, nationality, residence, not disqualified). Evidence of these can be asked for.
Who can apply and what’s involved?
- It is available to people where, if their name or address was listed on the electoral register, they believe their safety would be at risk. It is also for others in the same household as those at risk.
- It is suitable for people escaping from domestic violence or for people where their occupation would mean they must keep their identity private.
- Evidence, such as a court document or attestation from a suitable person is required.
Anonymous registration means that the person’s name and address will not appear on the electoral register but they can still vote. Once their application has been approved they will receive a certificate of anonymous registration form from the Electoral Registration Office. They then have the choice of sending this to credit reference agencies to prove they are on the electoral register at their address (not being on the register negatively affects a person’s credit rating).
- The registration only lasts for a year, so they will need to submit a fresh application annually if their circumstances remain the same. The Electoral Registration Office will send a reminder approximately 2 months before the end of the person’s first year registration. However, if their address changes in the meantime, they need to inform their Electoral Registration Office as soon as practical.
- It also means they are automatically not included in the open version of the register (this version is able to be purchased by any person for any purpose)
- Access to an anonymous registered person’s details is only allowed to the following persons and organizations and they have a legal duty to ensure the information is kept securely and only used for prescribed purposes: Returning Officer and Counting officers (for elections and referenda); The Jury service; The Security services, including GCHQ (Government Communications headquarters); Police forces and the Serious Organized Crime Agency.
- The application will need either a relevant court order that is in force to protect you or a qualified person to support the application
A “relevant order or injunction” must be one of the following:
- an injunction for the purpose of restraining a person from pursuing any conduct which amounts to harassment granted in proceedings under section 3 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended;
- an injunction granted under section 3A(2) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended;
- a restraining order made under section 5(1) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended;
- a restraining order on acquittal made under section 5A(1) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended;
- a non-harassment order made under section 8(5)(b)(ii) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended;
- a non-harassment order made under section 234A(2) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995;or
- a non-molestation order made under section 42(2) of the Family Law Act 1996.
Where possible originals documents should be supplied with the application (copies are acceptable if originals are not available). Any original documents will be returned to the applicant (copies will be kept) so that if still in force, they can be re-submitted 12 months later if a renewal is sought.
The order must also be in force on the day of the application but not necessarily for the whole 12 month period of registration21. A document which will cease to have effect during the 12 month period of registration does not reduce or otherwise affect the length of registration.
A qualified person is one of the following:
- A Police Officer above the rank of Superintendent of UK Police Force
- The Chief Constable of any police force in Scotland or the Police Service of Northern Ireland
- The Director General of the Security Services or Serious Organised Crime Agency
- A Director of Adult Social Services or Children’s Services in England, a Director of Social services in Wales or a Chief Social Work Officer in Scotland
Note: The qualified person does not have to be based in the same area as the applicant but the attestation cannot be delegated to a more junior person within their organisation.
- The nationality of the person registering is important as only citizens of the UK, Republic of Ireland, a European member state or a commonwealth country (provided that have leave to enter or remain in the UK or do not require such leave) can register.
- Someone living in the same household as a person who qualifies for anonymous registration also qualifies; however, they need to make a separate application also.
- If a correspondence address is provided, all correspondence and poll cards, postal votes (if applicable) will be sent to that address in a plain envelope.
How do I apply?
Application forms can be obtained by phoning or calling into council’s Electoral Registration Office (see contact details below). Note that applications will only be posted to an address. They will not be handed out over a counter.
Voting at a polling station
An anonymous elector will be sent a poll card in the post (in a plain windowless envelope). The poll card will only have the elector’s registration number on it and not their name or address.
To vote at their polling station, they MUST take their poll card with them and show it to the presiding officer. It is normal practice for the poll clerk to call out the electors name and address but in this case they will only call out the electors registration number.
If the person registered anonymously decides to vote by post then they need to be aware that they will have to supply their date of birth and signature on the Postal Voting Statement (PVS) that has to accompany their postal ballot paper. This PVS is a document that is open to public inspection.
The way around this dilemma is to formally appoint a proxy who can legally exercise the vote on behalf of the elector. Applications forms can be obtained from the Electoral Registration Office.
If a person applying for anonymous registration is already on the electoral register as a normal elector, then even though approval may be given to convert to an anonymous elector, they need to be aware that there will be hardcopy electoral registers in circulation that will contain their name and address. These cannot be retrieved. A new register is published normally on 1 December each year and it will be on that register that their details will not appear.
Of course this is not a problem for people registering for the first time.
Anonymous registered people cannot subscribe to a candidate’s nomination paper.
Anonymously registered people can donate to registered political parties but they must provide the party with a copy of their certificate of anonymous registration as proof of eligibility. A registered political party may ask the electoral registration officer to confirm the validity of any certificate. The elector details will not be confirmed but they may wish to confirm the format of the certificate and that the poll number on that certificate matches the register entry for an anonymous elector. The same applies for other political donations which are regulated.
The application form below allows you to apply for anonymous registration;
Anonymous registration application form.doc
The Electoral Services Office
Ground floor, Council House
Telephone 01922 652502
Fax 01922 652040
This page was last updated on 12 September 2016