In the General Election in 1918 men away from their home were allowed to vote for the first time.
How? Well an Act of Parliament passed on6 February 1918 allowed service men and other men who were away from home on election day to cast their vote in their home constituency.
Medal card index for H Siddle, KOYLI
The absentee voters had to register their applications before 18 August 1918 to be allowed to vote and the first of the Absent Voters Lists was published in October 1918.
Wakefield Family History Sharing has transcribed the Absent Voters List for Wakefield mainly as it is a very useful tool for finding a soldiers regiment and service number, be it only good for those young men over 21 years of age (men under 21 years of age were not given the vote until much later, as were women), and don’t forget the first one was in 1918, so no point in looking for a soldier before that date!
Why would I need to look on such a list. Well, you know great uncle George served and was KIA in WW1, but what you don’t know in which branch of the armed forces he served in. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website can’t help you in your search as he has a common name, which means there are lots of entries and some have no specific family information. It is now that a service number and regiment comes in very handy.
What information can the Wakefield Absent Voters List tell me? Firstly, the lists are divided into Polling Districts. Each district is then in street order and it is here you will find your man with his regiment and service number which will help you when looking on the CWGC to find the right man.
Not only will this newly found information aid your CWGC search but will also help when looking for service records, medal cards etc. Sometimes you have to go sideways to go forward!.
One thing I will mention is that it was not until c1920 that each individual service man was given a unique number. Prior to then if a serviceman changed his regiment, he changed his number too.
You know have the information you need to find the grave or memorial of your relative and, if it survives the service records too – so if you have a WW1 soldier from Wakefield the Absent Voters List page is worth a visit.
Wakefield 1918 Absent Voters List can be found here
Leeds City Council did have a searchable version of their Absent Voters List containing over 50,000 enlisted men but unlike the Wakefield transcription there are no addresses. For further information you have to go to Leeds Library.