Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of members of the armed forces posted abroad who (1) register to vote, and (2) cast their votes in elections and referendums.
In April 2016 (the nearest available data point to the 2016 EU Referendum) there were 10,500 Service personnel stationed overseas and in April 2017 (the closest data point to the 2017 General Election) there were 9,200. However, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) does not hold information to indicate the numbers or percentage of these personnel who were registered to vote or who actually voted. With regard to postal votes, the MOD does not hold data which would give an accurate analysis of the number of ballot papers submitted by Service personnel, as the voter packs processed by the Department also include the dependents of Service personnel, MOD civilian personnel based abroad and the dependents of civilian personnel. In addition, some personnel may have chosen alternative methods of returning their ballot papers.
Registration is a personal matter and personnel are free to decide whether, where and how they register to vote. The MOD works closely with the Electoral Commission to promote awareness among its people of the importance of registering to vote and of the options for doing so. Voter registration campaigns are run yearly within the MOD and the Department has seen a steady rise in the number of Armed Forces personnel who have declared they have registered. The latest version of the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS, 2017) indicates that 96 per cent of Officers and 81 per cent of Other Ranks who completed the AFCAS were registered to vote. Table B22.1 of the AFCAS provides figures on voter registration by Service and by year from 2013. The Surveys can be found on the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/armed-forces-continuous-attitude-survey-index