With the news of the upcoming general election, the issue of anonymous voter registration has again come to the fore. Nottinghamshire Rape Crisis Centre have led the way in campaigning on this locally, with huge achievements being made in terms of their consultation with The Electoral Commission and the Cabinet Office, alongside Women’s Aid and Mehala Osborne’s high profile national campaign.
There are three key reasons why the existing provisions for voting anonymously exclude thousands of domestic abuse survivors:
- The evidence required in order to register anonymously relates exclusively to the criminal justice system – despite the fact that fewer than half of domestic abuse survivors have involved the police
- The application requires a “letter of attestation” from a narrow range of very senior public sector figures, not easily accessible to most survivors
- The process ignores the fact that many survivors are at risk for many years, sometimes their whole lives, and should be eligible to register anonymously at any time, with no expiry date
You may remember our jubilation last year when Cabinet Office Minister Chris Skidmore MP committed the Government to removing any barriers that prevent survivors from exercising their democratic rights. He launched a policy document for consultation, with responses due at the end of this month, in time for the local elections next year. However, the calling of a snap general election means that those changes won’t have been implemented in time for June 8th, and many survivors of domestic abuse are facing the same issues as before.
Women’s Aid and the Electoral Commission have therefore produced a short Joint Guide to support survivors of domestic abuse to register to vote anonymously. The guide is aimed at professionals working with survivors, and includes helpful advice on the anonymous registration application process and some frequently asked questions. Please note that the deadline for anonymous voter registration is Wednesday 31 May 2017.
You can download the guide here.