Anonymous registration for survivors of domestic abuse
Give all survivors the right to vote
Women’s Aid has been working with survivor and campaigner Mehala to ensure that all survivors of domestic abuse are able to register to vote anonymously.
Women’s Aid has been working with survivor and campaigner Mehala to ensure that all survivors of domestic abuse are able to register to vote anonymously. Survivors of domestic abuse are legally allowed to register to vote anonymously in local and general elections to if they can prove their safety will be at risk if their address is published on the Electoral Register, which is a public document. In order to be allowed to register to vote anonymously you have to have certain types of evidence or a letter from a ‘Qualifying Officer’. It has been extremely difficult for survivors to produce these forms of evidence, or access the very senior officials in specific agencies who were recognised as ‘Qualifying Officers’.
These rules have meant that many survivors, including Mehala, have been unable to register to vote anonymously. As a result, they have been denied their right to participate in the democratic process. Mehala and Women’s Aid have campaigned for practical changes to make the anonymous registration process work for survivors – including ensuring that a refuge manager can sign a letter of support.
“I was denied a vote whilst living in a refuge, and I never realised how much having a vote meant till it was taken away. I had already been through enough, and to be disempowered even more was so difficult. I am so proud to have started the campaign that has led to these proposed change. Survivors in the future will not be denied their voice and democratic right to vote.”
Mehala Osborne, survivor and campaigner
“For too long survivors of domestic abuse 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. For them anonymity is a matter of life or death; with the very real threat of being hunted down by the perpetrator.
Following our Right to Vote campaign in partnership with survivor Mehala Osborne, we have worked with the government to bring about decisive action on this issue. We’re delighted that on the 100th anniversary of the first British women securing the right to vote, the government will be making it easier for survivors to vote in safety.”
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid
What are we calling for now?
Although we’ve secured crucial changes, anonymous registration will still only last for 12 months. Domestic abuse does not end when a relationship ends, and research consistently shows that women can be at risk long after they have escaped an abusive partner. We are now campaigning to ensure that a survivor never has to choose between safety and their right to vote by ensuring that “anonymous voter” registration can be accessed for life – and will be pushing for further reforms through the Government’s forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill.
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