Michael Fabricant has expressed concern that many servicemen in the
midlands, including the Whittington Barracks near Lichfield, will find
themselves unable to vote come the next general election. "A change in
the law means that many servicemen have lost their right to vote" says
Michael. "It is essential that they register before the deadline of
March 11th and that all base commanders make sure that everyone in their
charge who is entitled to vote, has got the vote".
The Representation of the People Act 2000 changed the method by which
service voters registered and voted. This was brought into effect
because of fears that the identification of service voters on a register
by the letter S next to their names could lead to terrorist attack. More
servicemen and women live off base than previously.
At the same time, postal voting on demand was allowed. The changes
introduced the requirement for servicemen to register annually, in the
same way as other electors, by either applying for a service vote or
responding to a request from an electoral registration officer to
complete the normal registration form.
Since then, there has been a huge drop in the number of servicemen
registered to vote. This is partly due to servicemen and women not
having realised the change and not having received a registration form
from the electoral registration officer.