Voting System from web site Bbc news
Who can vote?
To be able to vote in a UK Parliamentary election, you must be:
- Aged 18 or over,
- A citizen of the UK, a Commonwealth country or the Republic of Ireland,
- Resident in a constituency and on the electoral register, and Not in a category barred from voting (see below).
- In addition, British citizens who have lived abroad for up to 20 years may vote, and voters in Northern Ireland must have lived in the constituency for the previous three months.
There are certain categories of people not allowed to vote:
- Members of the House of Lords. The ejection of most hereditary peers from the Lords in 1999 means that they will be able to vote - and stand - for the first time in a general election.
-Those in prison.
- People convicted of electoral malpractice are barred for five years.
- Echoing the rather arcane language of the legislation, "idiots" may not vote and "lunatics" only during their lucid periods. Those compulsorily detained in psychiatric hospitals, for example, cannot vote.
Who can be a candidate?
There is no single document or law which defines who can stand for election as Member of Parliament.
Essentially, however, candidates must be over the age of 21 and be citizens of the UK, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth.
The lack of clarity extends even to the qualifying age - it is not set down whether candidates have to be 21 by the date the election is called, or close of nominations, or polling day itself.
Those banned from becoming MPs include:
- Members of the House of Lords,
- Undischarged bankrupts,
- Seriously mentally ill people,
- Prisoners serving sentences of more than one year,
- Those guilty of electoral malpractice in the last 5-10 years,
- Traitors - ie those guilty of treason and not pardoned,
- Certain people holding offices of profit under the Crown (including holders of judicial office, civil servants, members of the armed forces, or the police forces, members of the legislature of any country or territory outside the Commonwealth, Government-nominated directors of commercial companies).
- Clergy of the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic Church.
The clergy ban will be in force unless the Removal of Clergy Disqualification Bill receives the royal assent before parliament is prorogued. The bill removes the ban on all past and current clergy standing, unless they are also members of the House of Lords.