The electorate

2.1The persons entitled to vote at a parliamentary election in any constituency are those registered in the register of parliamentary electors for that constituency, who are not subject to any legal incapacity to vote, are either Commonwealth citizens (as defined by statute)1 or citizens of the Republic of Ireland, and are aged 18 years or over on the date of the poll.2

Under the Representation of the People Act 1985 as amended by subsequent legislation, British citizens who are resident outside the United Kingdom can qualify as overseas electors at parliamentary elections in respect of the constituency for which they were last registered, for a period of 15 years after they leave. Overseas electors must make a declaration that they qualify as overseas electors.3

Questions as to residence fall to be determined under the Representation of the People Act 1983, ss 5–7, 7A, 7B and 7C, as interpreted by electoral registration officers.

Footnotes

  1. 1. See the British Nationality Act 1981, ss 37, 51(2); to register, Commonwealth citizens are required to be ‘qualifying’, as defined in the Representation of the People Act 1983 (c 2), s 4(6) (inserted by Representation of the People Act 2000 (c 2), s 1(2)).
  2. 2. Representation of the People Act 1983 (c 2), ss 1(1), 4.
  3. 3. Representation of the People Act 1985 (c 50), s 1. The period, originally five years, was increased to 20 years by the Representation of the People Act 1989 and reduced to 15 years by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (c 41), s 141(a). Section 2 of the Representation of the People Act 1985 sets out the requirements of the declaration.