Midwives can now play vital role in helping people vote safely

By Ailsa Irvine on 28 March 2018

As midwives you often encounter vulnerable people, not least vulnerable women, and help them in many ways. Now there has been a change in the law which allows you to help them in another way - to have their say at elections safely.

As a result of new legislation which came into force earlier this month, midwives can now help vulnerable people register to vote without compromising their safety by supporting their anonymous registration application. Anonymous voter registration allows someone to register to vote without having their name or address disclosed on the publically available electoral register. This makes it possible for people whose safety is at risk, such as women at risk of domestic abuse, or victims of harassment and stalking, to register safely.

This is a really positive step forward that helps ends a situation that has seen too many people unable to register safely and have their say at elections in the past.

Before the recent law change this process was restricted because the people who could support an application was limited and high level. By extending the professionals who can support a voter’s application to register anonymously to include those we come across in our day to day lives and who we form trusting relationships with - like midwives - more people will be able to vote at elections with confidence.

Being a survivor of abuse should never deprive a person of having their say at elections, and this new law extending the professions and court orders that can support applications makes the process far more accessible.

The Electoral Commission has supported the Royal College of Midwives to produce new guidance explaining how midwives can support their vulnerable service users to be able to safely have their say at elections.

This useful guide explains the system of registering to vote anonymously, how vulnerable people can make an application and, importantly, how their information is kept safe. It also talks through how people can then go on to vote safely at elections once registered anonymously.

We have a strong tradition of free elections in the UK and now, with the help of midwives, a barrier to participating in these elections has been removed, helping hundreds of individuals and contributing to making our democracy accessible for everyone.