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Royal College of Midwives issues guidance on anonymous voter registration for abuse survivors

Midwives can help keep people who have experienced domestic abuse safe by ensuring they remain anonymous on the electoral roll  

Midwives can help keep people who have experienced domestic abuse safe by ensuring they remain anonymous on the electoral roll  

Voting
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Changes to the law enable midwives and nurses to attest anonymous voter registration for people who fear registering on the electoral roll openly will jeopardise their safety. 

The new rules came into effect on 7 March in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and on 1 April in Scotland.

They allow individuals to register to vote in referendums, and local and general elections, without their names and addresses appearing on the electoral roll.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) released the guidance, Anonymous Voter Registration In the UK: Supporting Survivors of Domestic Abuse to Register to Vote, in response to the changes in government regulations.

Domestic abuse is a leading cause of maternal death and 30% of domestic abuse begins in pregnancy, according to the RCM.

Applying for anonymity

To register anonymously, patients will have to complete an anonymous registration application form, and explain why their safety would be at risk if their name and address appeared on the electoral roll.

They also need supporting documentation, such as a court order, which includes domestic violence protection orders and female genital mutilation protection orders, or an attestation.

An attestation is a statement from a professional who knows the applicant is at risk and who, in their professional capacity, can verify the applicant’s need for anonymous registration.

All midwives can make attestations, the guidance explains, but they are under no obligation to do so.

RCM director for midwifery Louise Silverton said: ‘In this year celebrating 100 years of suffrage, I am pleased that the regulations have been extended to include midwives.

‘They are often the first professionals a woman may talk to about issues such as domestic abuse. Midwives are ideally placed to offer support. This is important guidance that I urge midwives to read.’

The RCN has committed itself to providing guidance for nurses.


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