Changes in voter registration allowing survivors of domestic abuse to vote anonymously successfully passed through Parliament yesterday.
The new rules are designed to make it easier for the 12,000 survivors of domestic abuse living in refuges to register to vote without the risk of revealing their locations to their abusers.
Their name and address will no longer appear on the electoral roll.
The changes include broadening the professionals able to provide an attestation to include police inspectors, medical practitioners, nurses, midwives and refuge managers.
They also involve expanding the list of court orders to include Domestic Violence Protection Orders and Female Genital Mutilation Orders.
‘It’s simply unacceptable that fear of revealing their address to an ex-partner has stopped victims of domestic abuse from voting,’ said the minister for the constitution Chloe Smith.
‘Which is why this Government took decisive action and is making it easier for those at risk to register and vote anonymously.
‘I’m proud of how seriously this Government is tackling domestic abuse — we have pledged £100m in dedicated funding until 2020 to tackle violence against women and girls.’
Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, commented: ‘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.’
Claire Bassett, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, said: 'Nurses, midwives and refuge managers will now be able to attest to someone’s request to register anonymously; the guidance that has been produced will mean that those professionals will be able to explain how a vulnerable person can register to vote without compromising their safety, and have their say at electoral events.'