Frequently asked questions about voting and elections

Registering to vote

You can register online on the gov.uk website

This is a government website and the online form only takes a few minutes to complete. You will need to have your national insurance number to hand to complete the process. Each person should complete the online form individually.

 

British citizens, Irish citizens and qualifying Commonwealth citizens can register to vote in all elections.

You can register to vote at 16, but you can’t vote until you’re 18.

Citizens of other EU member states resident in the UK can vote in local government elections but not in UK Parliamentary elections. 

 

You are required to provide your date of birth and national insurance number to confirm your identity and to prevent fraud.

 

You must vote at the polling station indicated on your poll card. This may not be the closest polling station to your home.

Find your polling station 

View a list of all polling stations for the election.

 

You might think that your vote does not matter, but every vote counts equally. 

Voting in elections and referendums provides you with an opportunity to influence the UK democratic process. The people who win the election are there to represent you in policy development and decision making. The ability to vote exists as one of the more cherished rights that many have fought, marched and died for over the centuries. 

 

Voting in person

Polling station staff will be on hand to invite you in as soon as polls open at 7am. 

Staff will give you a ballot paper listing who you can vote for. Depending on the elections taking place in your area, you may have more than one ballot paper to complete.

Take your ballot paper into a polling booth.  Use your own pen or pencil, or if you forgot to bring one, please ask the poll clerks. 

 

Take your time. Read the ballot paper carefully and complete it in line with the instructions.

Don’t write anything else on the paper, or your vote may not be counted.

If you make a mistake, don’t worry - as long as you haven’t already put it in the ballot box, inform the poll clerks and they can advise.

Once you’re done, fold your completed ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box. 

 

If you’re not sure what to do, or need any help, just ask the staff at the polling station. They will be happy to assist you.

 

If you cannot complete the ballot paper yourself, you can ask the presiding officer (the person in charge of the polling station) to mark the ballot paper for you, or you can take someone along with you to help you.

If you have a visual impairment, you can ask for a large print ballot paper to refer to when you cast your vote, or a special tactile voting device that is designed so you can mark your ballot paper on your own.

 

Your vote is yours and yours alone: you do not need to tell anyone how you voted.

Exit polls are sometimes conducted, where people, usually private companies working for newspapers or broadcasters, ask voters leaving the polling station who they voted for to help them predict what the outcome might be. You do not need to respond to their questions if you don’t want to.

Political discussion is not allowed inside and immediately around the polling station and staff will ask you to stop so that there’s no risk of influencing other voters. If you want to debate your vote with friends or family, do it away from the polling station.

 

You cannot take photos inside the polling station as it might put the secrecy of the ballot at risk.

You are more than welcome to take photos outside the polling station and share them on social media to encourage your friends and family to vote.

 

Voting by post or proxy

If you are unable to get to your polling station on polling day you can apply to vote by post, or you can appoint someone to vote on your behalf as proxy.

Follow the link for more information about postal and proxy votes.

 

Yes, voting by post is safe and proven cases of electoral fraud are rare. When voting by post, you should mark your vote on the ballot paper in secret, and seal the envelope yourself.

You will also be asked to give your date of birth and signature when applying for a postal or proxy vote. This makes postal voting safe, because when you return your postal voting pack your signature and date of birth are checked against those you provided before to confirm your identity.

Your signature and date of birth are separated from your ballot paper before it is looked at or counted, so giving this information will not affect the secrecy of your vote.

 

Your postal vote is sent to your home address usually at least a week before the election.

This should give you enough time to fill out your ballot paper and return it by post to our office before the close of poll on election day.

Your postal vote may be sent to an overseas address, but we do not recommend this as there is very little time for you to receive and return the ballot paper in time for polling day.

If you live outside of the UK or you are going to be away for more than a week before the election you may prefer to appoint a proxy.

 

If you have applied to vote by post, you cannot vote in person at the polling station. However, on election day you can return your postal vote to a polling station for your electoral area (before 10pm) or to the Electoral Services office. 

 

If you are unable to get to the polling station on election day, because of ill-health or you are away you can apply for a proxy vote. A proxy vote is when you appoint somebody to vote for you.

 

Anyone who is eligible to vote in the election themselves can be your proxy. However, you can only be a proxy for up to two people who are not members of your immediate family. They will be sent details on where to vote on your behalf dithbefore the day of the election.

 

Your proxy must go to your local polling station to vote. They will be sent a proxy poll card telling them where and when to vote. You must let your proxy know how you want them to vote on your behalf, for example, which candidate or which party. If you are able to go to the polling station yourself after all, you can still vote in person as long as your proxy has not already done so.

 

Still got a question?

The best way to contact us is by using our online contact form.  Our telephone lines can get busy leading up to the elections. 

 

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