How do I vote?
If you aren't registered, you can't vote so make sure you are registered.
There are three ways to vote.
1) Vote at a Polling Station - If you are registered to vote, then around 4 weeks before the election you will receive a poll card at your address telling you where to vote and the hours your polling station will be open.
- On election day, go to your polling station. This is usually a school, local hall or public building near where you live.
- When you arrive at the polling station, tell the staff there your name and address. You do not have to bring your poll card with you to vote but it might save time if you do.
- You will be given a ballot paper for each poll which will have a list of candidates and their political parties or if they are an independent candidate.
- The ballot paper will tell you how many votes you have or you can check with a member of staff. Go to a polling booth so that you can make your vote in secret.
- Put an X next to the candidate you wish to vote for, fold your ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box.
Polling Stations are open 7am to 10pm. Staff are there to help so please ask questions if there is anything you are unsure of.
2) Voting by post - Anybody who is on the electoral register can apply for a postal vote, you don't need to give a reason, find out more about voting by post. You can either request an application form by contacting the Electoral Services Unit or download a postal vote application.
You can apply for a postal vote for one election, just a specific period or permanently. A postal vote can be sent to your home address or to any other address that you choose, but please be aware of how long it may take to arrive as this could affect us receiving your vote in time.
When you vote by post, you are required to complete a Postal Voting Statement and return it with your ballot paper. You will need to provide your signature and date of birth. We check this against the signature and date of birth on your application so that nobody else can use your vote. So please be extra careful when completing your Postal Vote Application and make sure you sign the same way each time.
If you cannot sign or cannot sign in the same way, you can apply for a signature waiver on the back of the Postal Vote Application form.
When you receive your postal vote please follow the instructions included in the pack, complete your ballot paper in secret, put it in the envelope provided, seal the envelope yourself and post it back.
3) Voting by proxy - This is a convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to your polling station. Voting by proxy just means that you can appoint someone you trust to go and vote on your behalf. Find out more about voting by proxy.
You can apply for a proxy vote as long as you are on the electoral register and meet any of the following criteria:
- You are unable to go to the Polling Station for one particular election, for example, if you are away on holiday.
- You have a physical condition that means you cannot go to the Polling Station on election day.
- Your employment means you cannot go to the Polling Station on election day.
- Your attendance on an educational course means you cannot go to the Polling Station on election day.
- You are a British citizen living overseas. (Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections only)
- You are a crown servant or a member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces.
This method of voting can be particularly useful if you are overseas in a country too far away to send back a postal vote in time for the election.
Unless you are registered blind, you may have to get someone to support your application to confirm that your reason for applying to vote by proxy is valid. Please carefully read the notes that accompany the proxy application form to find out if you need to get someone to support your application and who can do it.
If you were to fall ill near an election it is possible to apply for an Emergency Proxy, please contact the Electoral Services Unit to find out more about this.