2021 Elections Information
Who can vote in the Scottish parliament election?
Who can vote:
- a UK or Irish citizen
- a qualifying Commonwealth citizen living in Scotland
- an EU citizen living in Scotland
- a qualifying foreign citizen in Wales or Scotland
- Remand prisoners, un-convicted prisoners and civil prisoners can vote if they are on the electoral register
You can also register to vote if:
- you are a British Citizen living overseas
- are serving in the Armed Forces
- have no fixed or permanent address
- you want to register anonymously
- if you are normally resident in Scotland and are serving a combined sentence of 12 months or less anywhere in the UK
Who can’t vote:
You will not be able to vote if you:
are a convicted person detained in pursuance of your sentence, excluding contempt of court.
have been found guilty within the previous five years of corrupt or illegal practices in connection with an election
Voting as a student:
If you’re a student, you may be able to register to vote at both your home address and your term-time address. You can’t vote at both your home address and your term-time address in a national poll, even if the addresses are in different areas of the country.
How to register:
The fastest way is to register online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
You can also send in your registration to the council by returning the form that should have been sent to your address. You don’t need to register if you haven’t changed your address or personal details since you last registered.
Planning to post your vote – register by 12pm on 6th April
Planning to vote in person – register by 12pm on 19th April
Planning to vote by proxy (get someone else to hand in your vote) – register by 12pm on 25th April
For more information or to get to a postal or proxy application form, go to electoralcommission.org.uk/voter or call the national helpline on 0800 3 280 280.
What is the electoral register – All voters are required to give basic personal information to their local Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) so that the ERO can check that they are eligible to register to vote. The difference between a standard and an anonymous registration is how these details then appear on the electoral register and how the ERO communicates with you.
Who can anonymise themselves – Anonymous registration was set up to help individuals whose safety would be at risk (or where the safety of other people at the same address as them would be at risk) if their name or address was listed on the electoral register – for example a person who has fled domestic abuse.
How can you anonymise yourself? –
To register anonymously, you will need to complete an application form.
You will also need to supply documentary evidence to back up your claim e.g.
1. a court order; or
2. an attestation from a qualifying officer supporting the application (a full list of qualifying officers and other details can be found in this document co-produced by Scottish Women’s Aid)
The application must then be submitted to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) at the local council
Immigration status and voting rights
Who is a qualifying foreign citizen?
A qualifying foreign citizen is a citizen of another country who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need such permission. This now includes those with refugee status in Scotland.
What if I don’t have a national insurance number?
If you don’t have a National Insurance Number, you need to state this on your registration application then continue to submit it. Your Electoral Registration Officer will then contact you to ask you to provide documentary evidence to prove your identity.
Where do I go to vote?
Everyone in your household who is registered to vote will receive a poll card before the election. Your poll card tells you where you need to go to vote.
For more information or to get to a postal or proxy application form, go to electoralcommission.org.uk/voter or call the national helpline on 0800 3 280 280
Translated resources and extra info:
- 1. https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/register-vote-and-update-your-details – information on who can vote and links to register
- Register to vote paper form (to print) – www.gov.uk/government/collections/register-to-vote-paper-forms
- https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/media/6196 – Form for anonymous registration
- https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/running-electoral-registration-scotland/special-category-electors/anonymous-registration – More info on anonymous registration
- I’m really pleased to say that the resources are now available on our website here: Right to vote – Scottish Refugee Council