IWA Parliamentary question on residentail boaters' voting rights

Issue date: 6 April 2010

IWA asked Chesham MP Mrs Cheryl Gillan to ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department was taking to ensure that residents of boats without a postcoded address are able to register to vote without having to declare themselves homeless.

In a written response he stated that: If a boat, houseboat or other residence has a permanent mooring it is treated by registration officers as a permanent dwelling in which an elector may be resident for registration purposes, and residents can be registered as electors in the standard way.

If the boat or other residence does not have a permanent mooring, then it is open to the resident(s) to make a 'Declaration of Local Connection' for the purposes of registering to vote. The residents should register at a place where they spend the most time or where they have some connection, such as the area where they were last permanently registered or any boatyard they may use for maintenance.

The provisions are designed to support participation in the electoral process by recognising that there will be some individuals who are unable to supply a fixed address, but are nonetheless eligible to register and vote. Electors registered by means of a local connection may vote using the same methods as ordinary electors. We have no current plans to amend the relevant legislation.

The Electoral Commission has published guidance for electoral registration officers on these provisions.