Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Friday, 12 March 2010

The military vote.

Apparently, and according to both the Telegraph and BBC MP Richard Benyon has asked about soldiers' voting rights, hinting at disenfranchising the military.

a ''perverse situation'' could arise where the armed forces were fighting for people in foreign countries to have the vote but could not cast a ballot themselves
''It is unlikely that the vast majority of our armed forces serving overseas will be able to vote in the coming election,''
This is because
Members of the armed forces are able to register as a ''service voter'', linking them to a fixed address in the UK for three years to allow flexibility when posted overseas.

Those abroad on election day can apply to vote by post or proxy, though the Electoral Commission recommends service personnel to appoint a proxy. 
''If you're based abroad, you need to be aware that, due to election timetables, you may not receive your ballot paper until shortly before election day.

''Depending on where you're based, there may not be enough time for you to return your ballot before voting closes (10pm on election day), so voting by post may not be the best way for you to vote. 
''In these circumstances we would encourage you to appoint a proxy in the UK to vote on your behalf.''
The thing is, and what hasn't been mentioned in either article, is that if you want to arrange a proxy vote it can only be done by filling in a form and needs to be countersigned.

Proxy forms are downloadable from here the example is for "Armed Forces" and is for Bournemouth, because that was the postcode suggested by the website.

It takes time, quite a lot of time, to organise.

The benefit of a proxy vote is that you can make sure your vote counts, it can also be arranged and then ignored if, on polling day, you can be there in person. You don't seem to be able to do this if you've arranged a postal vote.

If the general election is to be, as most think it will be, on May 6th, there is only 8 weeks left in which to organise either a proxy or a postal vote.


Junius said...

But this is nothing new. I remember having to organise a proxy vote when serving in Borneo in the 1960's.

It's hardly disenfranchising the military!

Mrs Rigby said...

True, but things have changed - it's less easy and less quick to get a proxy vote these days.