New guidance clarifies that a power of attorney can be used for voter registration

Published: 06 Mar 2019

The Electoral Commission has published up to date guidance for Electoral Registration Officers in Scotland about assisting disabled people, or people with temporary incapacity, to register to vote.

Someone may have a physical condition that prevents them from completing the voter registration form, or they may not have capacity to complete the form.

However, in both examples, they are eligible to vote and so the voting and voter registration system should not prevent them from exercising their right to vote at an election or referendum.

Importantly, the Electoral Commission’s updated guidance now confirms that someone who has an appropriate power of attorney may complete the voter registration application and make the required declaration of truth on behalf of someone who does not have the capacity to do so themselves.  

We provided feedback to the Electoral Commission on the previous version of the guidance.

Lynn Welsh, our Head of Legal in Scotland, welcomed this new guidance. She said:

‘Granting a power of attorney lets people plan what decisions or actions they want their attorney to make for them if in the future they become incapable of making decisions about their own affairs.

'This guidance makes it clear that your attorney can register you to vote if you become incapable of doing this yourself.

'It means people who have been appointed as an attorney can be confident that they have the power to complete the voter registration form and declaration of truth.

'It is a positive move by the Electoral Commission which removes any unnecessary barriers that may prevent disabled people, or people with temporary incapacity, from exercising their right to vote.’