Two months before the May election, the government has confirmed the support that will be available for members of the Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan who wish to vote in the referendum and elections on 5 May.
Following a registration push for those facing the most difficult of circumstances whilst serving in Afghanistan, service personnel will be able to use either a proxy or postal vote to take part in the polls.
Mark Harper MP, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, said:
The brave men and women in Afghanistan are fighting to defend democracy, so it seems only right that we make it as easy as possible for them to take part in the referendum on the voting system and their own elections at home.
I am pleased to be part of a joint effort by the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence, the BFPO, Rushmoor Borough Council (which will provide a central point for co-ordinating the initiative) and the Electoral Commission working together to ensure our Armed Forces have their say in how the country is run.”
The government has asked the Electoral Commission to produce special forms which are provided to military troops both for those going out to Afghanistan and those already there, to fill out and register to vote. The Ministry of Defence undertakes targeted activity to encourage soldiers to register to vote by proxy before they leave the UK and each person arriving in Afghanistan will be briefed on the initiative.
Troops who fill out the form and request a postal vote are sent ballot forms via the BFPO and existing supply routes.
Once completed by the voters, the ballot papers will be returned to the UK and distributed to Returning Officers using a network of BFPO, Royal Mail and local authority support put in place for the initiative.
Returning Officers will be asked to prioritise all postal ballot packs heading for British Forces Post Office (BFPO) addresses and those bound for Afghanistan will be transported there using existing logistics, to facilitate service personnel participation.