This petition was submitted during the 2017–2019 Conservative government
Petition Scrap the right to vote in two separate constituencies at local elections
Presently, it is legal to vote in the local elections of two separate local councils if you live in, and are registered in, two different areas. This practice can lead to electoral fraud, with voters registering at addresses in cities they have no physical connection with, to aid their chosen party.
This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website
This response was given on 1 November 2019
The Government believes that individuals who split their time between residences should be able to vote in local elections in two places, provided they meet the registration criteria.
Read the response in full
The Government has no plans to change the law in this area.
The Government believes that it is appropriate for individuals who split their time between residences to be able to vote in local elections in two places. These may include, for example, people who work away from home during the week, or for a significant part of the year. It may also include those students who spend part of the year away at university and part of the year at their family home.
These people clearly may have a significant stake in more than one local authority area. They may be affected by decisions made by local authorities in both places and may use services and pay council tax in both areas.
Any person who wishes to vote must first meet the registration criteria. In the case of a person registering in more than place, they must meet the criteria in both. It is for independent local Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) to decide about a person’s entitlement to register in each case. As part of their deliberations, EROs will consider whether a person meets the residency requirements. EROs are experienced in determining whether someone is properly resident in a particular constituency and may contact other local authorities should they feel the need to. EROs also contact households as part of the annual canvass, which helps to ensure that the details of those registered at each property in the area for which they are responsible are accurate and up-to-date.
There are penalties in place for persons who register fraudulently. It is an offence under section 13D of the Representation of the People Act 1983 to provide false information to an Electoral Registration Officer for any purpose connected with the registration of electors. A person found guilty may face a custodial sentence (up to 51 weeks in prison) or a fine, or both.
The law is clear that, if an individual is registered to vote in two local authority elections, they are only entitled to vote once in each local authority. It is an offence, potentially leading to a fine of up to £5,000, to vote more than once at an election for the same body. This, in turn, means that a person who is registered in more than one place is only permitted to vote once in a General Parliamentary Election.
Electoral fraud is unacceptable on any level. As outlined in the Queen’s Speech on 14 October, the Government will bring forward measures that will improve the integrity and security of each elector’s vote, whether they vote at a polling station or elsewhere. These measures are part of a wider initiative to improve trust in the integrity of the electoral process, maintain public confidence and support equality and inclusivity in our electoral system.