Since 2014, Individual Voter Registration has been the system by which people in England, Scotland and Wales are expected to register to vote – the Government has encouraged registration to take place online in all possible cases, though registration by post is permitted.
In order to vote in the General Election which will take place on 8 June 2017, anyone eligible not currently on the electoral roll needs to register by the end of the 22 May 2017.
If you are a trans person you may encounter problems.
Stonewall is aware that some trans people in England, Scotland and Wales have encountered difficulties in registering to vote online and urges trans people who are not yet registered to read the following guidance and act as soon as possible in order to ensure they do not miss the opportunity to vote.
If you are a trans person you may encounter problems for the following reasons:
1.You have changed your name (e.g. by deed poll) and wish to vote under your current name.
If you have changed your name (especially if the change was recent) you may not have yet updated HMRC regarding the change of name. As a result, your previous name may still be associated with your National Insurance number.
The online voter registration service uses your National Insurance number as a form of verification. If your name change has not yet been processed at HMRC the form may detect that your National Insurance number is linked to a different name to the one you currently use.
The online registration form does allow you to provide details of your previous name in order to improve the chances of successful registration. However, this is optional and no one is required to provide their previous name. We understand many trans people are uncomfortable with providing their previous names on online forms.
However, if you choose not to submit your previous name and your National Insurance number does not match your current name the online form may refuse your application as it has insufficient evidence to verify who you are.
2.You informed HMRC of your trans status or obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate and your National Insurance number was protected.
HMRC restricts some National Insurance numbers for enhanced security reasons – examples include Members of Parliament, vulnerable adults and people in witness protection schemes. Only approved individuals are able to access records relating to protected National Insurance numbers. Historically, some trans people who wanted greater discretion about their trans status in their communications with HMRC or who obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate had their National Insurance numbers protected by default.
These individuals will not be able to register to vote online in the usual way as the online system will be unable to recognise their National Insurance number.
What you can do
- Check if you are able to register to vote online as soon as possible in order to allow as much time before 22 May 2017 as you can.
- If you are not able to register online, contact your Local Authority Electoral/Elections Office (the number for this office should be on the Local Authority website)
- When you call ask for the phone number or email address of the person responsible for the administration of the electoral roll. You may need to state that you have a sensitive matter to discuss regarding voter registration but do not feel pressured to disclose your trans status or your old name on the phone if you do not want to.
- When you have the contact details for the administrator contact them directly explaining briefly that you are eligible to vote but wish to vote under your new name or that your National Insurance number is protected.
- In order to verify your new name, they may ask you to provide further documents showing your name change and use of your new name which may include things like your deed poll, driving licence in your new name, passport in your new name, a utility bill or bank statement in your new name at the address you wish to be registered at.
- Explain that you are entitled to have your trans status kept confidential as well as any scanned documents you provide kept confidential.
3. Tell the Electoral Commission
Unfortunately, the current problems are due to a registration system which was not designed with trans people in mind. The best way to change this is to contact the Electoral Commission about your experience or difficulties in registering to vote and urge them to review their policies and procedures. You can do this here.