Representation of the People Act 1969

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1969 c. 15


Representation of thePeople Act 1969

1969 CHAPTER 15

An Act to amend the law about the qualification of electors at elections to the Parliament of the United Kingdom or at local government elections in Great Britain, and the qualification for election to and membership of local authorities in England and Wales, about the conduct of and manner of voting at those elections and about candidates' election expenses thereat, and otherwise to make provision about matters incidental to those elections, and for purposes connected therewith.

[17th April 1969]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

The franchise and its exercise

The franchise and its exercise

S-1 Voting age.

1 Voting age.

(1) For purposes of the Representation of the People Acts a person shall be of voting age if he is of the age of eighteen years or over; and, if otherwise qualified, a person who is of voting age on the date of the poll at a parliamentary or local government election shall be entitled to vote as an elector, whether or not he is of voting age on the qualifying date.

(2) A person, if otherwise qualified, shall accordingly be entitled to be registered in a register of parliamentary electors or a register of local government electors if he will attain voting age before the end of the twelve months following the day by which the register is required to be published; but, if he will not be of voting age on the first day of those twelve months—

(a ) his entry in the register shall give the date on which he will attain that age; and

(b ) until the date given in the entry he shall not by virtue of the entry be treated as an elector for any purposes other than purposes of an election at which the day fixed for the poll is that or a later date.

(3) A person, if otherwise qualified, shall be capable of voting as proxy at parliamentary or local government elections at which he is of voting age on the date of the poll, and of being appointed proxy for that purpose before he is of voting age.

(4) A person shall be qualified under the parliamentary or local elections rules to assist a blind voter to vote if that person is one of the relatives specified in the relevant rule and is of voting age.

(5) For purposes of the Representation of the People Acts a person shall be deemed, according to the law in Northern Ireland as well as according to the law in other parts of the United Kingdom, not to have attained a given age until the commencement of the relevant anniversary of the day of his birth.

S-2 Service declarations and qualification.

2 Service declarations and qualification.

(1) A service declaration shall be made with a view to registration in the register of electors for a particular year, and with reference to the qualifying date to which that register looks, and shall not have effect to enable the declarant to be registered in any other register.

(2) A service declaration made with reference to any qualifying date shall be made during the twelve months ending with that date, but shall not have effect if after it is made and before that date the declarant ceases to have a service qualification or, in so far as regulations so provide, if after it is made and before that date there is a change in the circumstances giving the service qualification.

(3) Persons who are employed by the British Council in posts outside the United Kingdom and their wives shall be included among the persons having a service qualification in like manner as members of the forces and their wives are included by section 10(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1949 .

(4) Where a married woman has a service qualification, her husband shall have one in circumstances corresponding to those in which a wife does.

S-3 Merchant seamen.

3 Merchant seamen.

(1) At any time when a merchant seaman is not resident in the United Kingdom and would have been resident there but for the nature of his occupation, he shall be entitled to be treated for purposes of sections 1 and 2 of the Representation of the People Act 1949 as resident—

(a ) at any place at which he would have been resident but for the nature of his occupation; or

(b ) at any hostel or club providing accommodation for merchant seamen at which he commonly stays in the course of his occupation.

For this purpose ‘merchant seaman’ means any person not having a service qualification whose employment or the greater part of it is carried out on board seagoing ships, and includes any such person while temporarily without employment.

(2) Regulations made with respect to the matters mentioned in section 42 of the Representation of the People Act 1949 (form of register etc.) may contain provisions as to marking the register so as to distinguish those who are registered by virtue of the special provision about residence applying to merchant seamen or who, though not so registered, are merchant seamen within the meaning of that provision.

S-4 Disfranchisement of offenders in prison, etc.

4 Disfranchisement of offenders in prison, etc.

(1) A convicted person during the time that he is detained in a penal institution in pursuance of his sentence shall be legally incapable of voting at any parliamentary or local government election.

(2) For this purpose—

(a ) ‘convicted person’ means any person found guilty of an offence (whether under the law of the United Kingdom or not), including a person found guilty by a court-martial under the Army Act 1955 , the Air Force Act 1955 or the Naval Discipline Act 1957 or on a summary trial under section 49 of the Naval Discipline Act 1957, but not including a person dealt with by committal or other summary process for contempt of court; and

(b ) ‘penal institution’ means an institution to which the Prison Act 1952 , the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1952 or the Prison Act (Northern Ireland) 1953 applies; and

(c ) a person detained for default in complying with his sentence shall not be treated as detained in pursuance of the sentence, whether or not the sentence provided for detention in the event of default, but a person detained by virtue of a conditional pardon in respect of an offence shall be treated as detained in pursuance of his sentence for the offence.

(3) It is immaterial for purposes of this section whether a conviction or sentence was before or after the passing of this Act.

S-5 Extension for married persons of right to vote by proxy or by post.

5 Extension for married persons of right to vote by proxy or by post.

(1) The persons excepted under section 12 or 23 of the Representation of the People Act 1949 from the requirement of subsection (1) of the section that all persons voting as electors at a parliamentary election or at a local government election shall do so in person at the appropriate polling station shall include, where they are entitled to vote by proxy or by post in accordance with subsection (2) below,—

(a ) those who have a service qualification depending on marriage to, and residence outside the United Kingdom to be with, a person having a service qualification; and

(b ) those unable or likely to be unable to go in person to the polling station by reason of the general nature of the occupation, service or employment of, and their resulting absence from their qualifying address to be with, their husband or wife.

(2) At parliamentary elections and at local government elections at which postal voting is allowed, a person who is not registered as a service voter but who either—

(a ) has made a service declaration in respect of a qualification depending on marriage as described in subsection (1) above; or

(b ) is as a married person unable or likely to be unable to go to the poll by reason of absence in the circumstances there described;

shall have the like right to vote by proxy and, in the case dealt with by paragraph (b ) above, the like right to vote by post as a person unable or likely to be unable to go to the poll by reason of the general nature of his occupation, service or employment.

(3) An application to be treated as an absent voter in pursuance of this section shall be for an indefinite period, and accordingly section 13 of the Representation of the People Act 1949 shall apply to an application based on either of the grounds related to the applicant's marriage as it applies to an application based on the general nature of the applicant's occupation, service or employment.

S-6 amendments as to proxy and postal voting.

6 amendments as to proxy and postal voting.

(1) For section 12(7)(a ) and for section 15(3)(a ) of the Representation of the People Act 1949 (under which two addresses within the area of the same borough or urban district are to be treated as in the same area so as to exclude a right to vote by post on a change of address) there shall in each case be substituted—

‘(a ) both are within the area of the same borough and in the same constituency or are within the area of the same urban district’.

(2) The provisions of the Representation of the People Act 1949 as to postal voting at parliamentary or local government elections by persons who are unable or likely to be unable, by reason of physical incapacity, to go in person to the polling station or if able to go, to vote unaided shall apply in like manner to persons who are unable or likely to be unable by reason of religious observance, except that any application to be treated as an absent voter, if it is based on the ground of religious observance, shall be for a particular election only.

(3) At any parliamentary or local government election a person, whether registered as a service voter or...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT