Electoral franchise

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  • This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on the electoral franchise (eligibility to vote in elections). This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

    Commons Briefing Papers

    19.10.2016Voting age
    Under current legislation, a person must be 18 or over to vote. This Note gives details of calls for a change in the law to reduce the voting age to 16.
    11.10.2016Overseas voters
    British citizens living overseas are currently entitled to be registered to vote in UK Parliamentary elections for up to 15 years in the constituency they were registered in before leaving the UK. After the general election the Government indicated that it would bring forward a Votes for Life Bill; this Bill has not yet been introduced but on 7 October 2016 the Government published a policy statement which set out how the 15 year rule would be removed. This Briefing Paper provides details of the provisions relating to overseas voters in the Representation of the People Act 1985 and of earlier attempts to change the 15 year rule.
    18.11.2015Armed Forces Voting
    The Armed Forces can register to vote as ordinary electors, as overseas voters, or as service voters. There has been concern about the under-registration of the Armed Forces, especially those serving overseas, and the difficulties they face in participating in the electoral process more generally.The Note also gives a brief history of how the system of voting by members of the Armed Forces has changed, particularly during the periods directly after each World War.
    11.02.2015Prisoners' voting rights (2005 to May 2015)
    Prisoners serving a custodial sentence do not have the right to vote under UK law. Prisoners on remand are able to vote under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 2000. This Standard Note provides a narrative of events from the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on 6 October 2005, in the case of Hirst v United Kingdom (No 2), to the May 2015 General Election.
    21.02.2014Elections and electoral administration: developments since 2010
    This paper looks in brief at some of the developments relating to elections and electoral administration in the UK since the general election since 2010. It tracks the commitments in relation to elections contained in the Coalition Government's agreement, The Coalition: Our Programme for Government, published in May 2010. Other key developments relating to elections are outlined, for example the Law Commission's review of electoral law and proposed changes to electoral arrangements for the Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales
    01.03.2013The History of the Parliamentary Franchise
    This paper gives a history of the Parliamentary franchise and shows the incremental stages which led to universal suffrage across the UK by drawing on several of the recognised sources which have dealt with the subject and by referring to the key legislation.
    02.04.20102010 General Election: new constituencies; seats and swing
    The 2010 General Election will use new constituency boundaries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland the boundaries will be the same as 2005. After the election there will be 650 seats in the House of Commons, four more than the 646 now. In partisan terms, the new areas give a net benefit to the Conservatives. If the 2005 election had been fought on the new boundaries the Conservatives would have gained around 12 additional seats and Labour seven fewer.
    11.10.2005Franchise and immigration status
    In 2000, the Government amended the law to ensure that people who do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK may not be included in the electoral register, and consequently are not entitled to vote. This note looks at how immigration status relates to electoral franchise.

    Lords Library Notes

    12.05.2016Queen's Speech 2016 Day 3: Home, Legal, Constitutional and Devolved Affairs
    The House of Lords is due to debate the Queen's Speech over four days between 19 and 25 May 2016. This briefing is one of four prepared by the House of Lords Library to cover the themes of each day of debate.
    08.10.2015European Union Referendum Bill
    This Library Note provides background reading for the European Union Referendum Bill, debated ay second reading in the House of Lords on 13 October 2015.
    25.06.2013Extension of Franchise (House of Lords) Bill [HL]
    This Library Note provides background information on the disqualification of Peers from voting at elections to the House of Commons, in anticipation of the second reading of Lord Dubs' Private Member's Bill on this issue on 5 July.

    Select Committee Reports

    08.02.2011Voting by convicted prisoners: summary of evidence.
    Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee report [Commons]

    Early Day Motions

    That this House notes the recent national poll of 65,000 young people leading to the debate and vote by Members of the UK Youth Parliament at their sitting in the House of Commons on ...
    That this House believes that the voting age for elections to the House of Commons and any elected Second Chamber should be reduced to 16 years, following the example in Jersey, Guernsey, ...
    14.12.2010STUDENT VOTING
    That this House notes that a number of constituencies and council wards have large but transient student populations; further notes that these students are entitled to register to vote ...
    That this House recognises the centenary of the women's suffrage event of Black Friday, 18 November 1910; notes the tragedy of the day's outcome, and the reported brutality of the police ...
    That this House is concerned at the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to challenge the UK's decision to withdraw the right to vote from most convicted prisoners; notes ...


    • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
    • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
    • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
    • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
    • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses