Electoral franchise

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on the electoral franchise (eligibility to vote in elections). This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Standard Notes

27.01.2015Voting age
Under current legislation, a person must be 18 or over to vote. This Note gives details of calls for a change in the law to reduce the voting age to 16.
05.01.2015Prisoners' voting rights
Prisoners serving a custodial sentence do not have the right to vote. Prisoners on remand are able to vote under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 2000. This Standard Note provides a narrative of events following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on 6 October 2005, the Hirst case, that the UK's current ban on all serving prisoners from voting contravenes Article 3 of Protocol No 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
11.11.2014Overseas voters
This Note provides background to the provisions relating to overseas voters in the Representation of the People Act 1985 which was subsequently amended by the Representation of the People Act 1989 and the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. Information is also given about the procedure for registering to vote as an overseas elector and the means of voting, either by post or by proxy.
21.02.2014Elections and electoral administration: developments since 2010
This paper looks in brief at some of the developments relating to elections and electoral administration in the UK since the general election since 2010. It tracks the commitments in relation to elections contained in the Coalition Government's agreement, The Coalition: Our Programme for Government, published in May 2010. Other key developments relating to elections are outlined, for example the Law Commission's review of electoral law and proposed changes to electoral arrangements for the Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales
15.01.2014Prisoners' voting rights - in brief
On 6 October 2005 the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Hirst case, found that the UK's current ban on all serving prisoners from voting contravenes Article 3 of Protocol No 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The issue of prisoner voting has become linked with the overall question of compliance with the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights. This note briefly draws together Library material on the issue and summarises Standard Note 1764, Prisoners' voting rights, which provides a narrative of events following the judgment.

Research Papers

01.03.2013The History of the Parliamentary Franchise
This paper gives a history of the Parliamentary franchise and shows the incremental stages which led to universal suffrage across the UK by drawing on several of the recognised sources which have dealt with the subject and by referring to the key legislation.

Select Committee Reports

08.02.2011Voting by convicted prisoners: summary of evidence.
Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House notes the recent national poll of 65,000 young people leading to the debate and vote by Members of the UK Youth Parliament at their sitting in the House of Commons on ...
That this House believes that the voting age for elections to the House of Commons and any elected Second Chamber should be reduced to 16 years, following the example in Jersey, Guernsey, ...
That this House notes that a number of constituencies and council wards have large but transient student populations; further notes that these students are entitled to register to vote ...
That this House recognises the centenary of the women's suffrage event of Black Friday, 18 November 1910; notes the tragedy of the day's outcome, and the reported brutality of the police ...
That this House is concerned at the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to challenge the UK's decision to withdraw the right to vote from most convicted prisoners; notes ...

Lords Library Notes

25.06.2013Extension of Franchise (House of Lords) Bill [HL]
This Library Note provides background information on the disqualification of Peers from voting at elections to the House of Commons, in anticipation of the second reading of Lord Dubs' Private Member's Bill on this issue on 5 July.


  • Research Papers (RP) - briefings produced by the House of Commons Library on Bills, topical issues and regular statistics
  • Standard Notes (SN) - shorter, topical briefings from the Commons Library
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POST Notes - short briefing notes produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - papers compiled by the House of Lords Library on Bills and for debates in the Lords
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses