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“Domestic Abuse survivors given a voice to vote”

Government to change law to make it easier for survivors to vote anonymously

In a joint press release by the Cabinet Office and the Home Office it has been confirmed that Ministers will press ahead with plans to make it easier for domestic abuse survivors to register to vote anonymously.

Under existing legislation, domestic abuse survivors must provide a court order or have their application supported by a senior independent witness, such as a police superintendent, in order to appear anonymously on the electoral register.

These strict requirements have deterred many from registering at all.

The proposed changes will:

• increase the number of people who can act as witnesses, including medical and healthcare professionals and refuge workers, and

• expand the type of evidence which can be put forward.

Chris Skidmore, Minister for the Constitution, said, "Ensuring every eligible person is able to vote is a matter of social justice. Every voice matters and this Government will continue to encourage our record levels of democratic participation by ensuring we have a democracy that works for everyone."

Women's Aid, the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children, estimates that up to 12,000 women are receiving support in their refuges at any one time.

The proposed changes are expected to be of particular benefit to these women or those who have left a refuge but continue to be in hiding from their perpetrators.

Welcoming the move, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women's Aid, is reported as saying, "The changes announced today will help survivors of domestic abuse to regain their voices. For too long these women have been silenced because it was too dangerous for them to sign up to an electoral register, which would reveal their location, and too difficult for them to register anonymously."

To complement the legislative changes, the Cabinet Office will launch further research to identify and explain other barriers to electoral registration faced by survivors of domestic abuse. This research will be critical in shaping new policies, projects and future engagement.

For the press release click here