What Absent Voters Lists are
The 1918 Representation of the People Act made special provision so that people engaged on War Service could vote. This included members of the armed forces, the Merchant Navy and those serving with the Red Cross and similar organisations.
Men and women who were qualified to vote could be registered as Naval and Military voters and vote either by post or via a proxy. As well as being included in the main Register of Electors for each consistency, the Naval and Military voters were also placed in a separate Absent Voters List. These lists included details of the voter's rank and service unit, and will be of interest to people researching the War service of individuals and those studying participation in the War in particular localities.
Existing Absent Voters Lists
PRONI holds specific Absent Voters Lists for counties Armagh and Derry~Londonderry. These lists have now been digitised and are available online, alongside a name index for each county .
Reference is made to absent voters within the 1918 Electoral Registers for other counties, however, only Armagh and Derry~Londonderry have absent voters clearly identified on a separate list which includes service information.
Information recorded in the Absent Voters Lists
The lists generally include Surname and Forename of each absent voter, along with information on the Polling District, Registration Unit and address (that is: Street or Townland). In the case of Naval and Military voters, information on service number, rank and unit is included. In some cases, additional information has been added at a later date which corrects or updates the original entry. As different procedures were followed in each County when compiling the lists, the format of the records varies.