3. How to vote
Your name must be included in the electoral register to be able to vote in UK elections although you may not be eligible to vote at all elections. If you are not already registered to vote, please visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
The poll card
If you are eligible to vote at an election you should receive a poll card shortly after the notice of election is published. The poll card tells you when and where to vote or advises that you are a postal or proxy voter. If you don't receive a poll card you should contact the Electoral Services team who will tell you the date of the election and where your polling station will be. The poll card is for your information only so don't worry if you lose it; you can still vote without it (unless you have an anonymous registration).
At the polling station
Give the poll clerk your name and address and, provided you are registered, they will issue you with a ballot paper. The only exception is if you are an anonymous elector - you must present your poll card to the presiding officer at the polling station. This is because your name and address will not appear on the election register and you will need to be identified by the electoral number printed on the poll card.
Once you have your ballot paper, go to one of the polling booths and mark X in the box to the right, alongside the name of the candidate(s) you want to vote for. The number of candidates you are allowed to vote for is printed at the top of the ballot paper; you cannot vote for more than this number. Don't put any other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted. If you accidentally spoil your ballot paper, or vote for the wrong candidate, show it to the presiding officer and ask for another one. Once you have completed your ballot paper, fold it in half and place it in the ballot box.
Voting by post or by proxy
- If you are a postal voter you are not entitled to vote in person, even if you have not used your postal vote. You may deliver your completed postal ballot to the polling station if you wish, but you must hand in the sealed envelope to the presiding officer as it must not be placed in the ballot box.
- If you have appointed a proxy to vote on your behalf you may still vote in person, as long as you do so before your proxy has voted. If your proxy has already voted on your behalf by post, you will not be allowed to vote yourself.
If you experience difficulty in voting, assistance is available at each polling station as we have a legal obligation to provide the following:
- a device which enables blind or partially sighted voters to vote unaided;
- at least one polling booth which is suitable for wheelchair users;
- at least one large-print version of the ballot paper displayed inside the station;
- a large print, hand-held version of the ballot paper;
- a provision for blind voters, voters with physical disabilities who are unable to vote without assistance and voters who are unable to read, to be assisted by a companion. A declaration must be made but it can be made orally or in writing; and
- assistance from the presiding officer
The close of poll
Anyone in a queue by 10pm at the polling station shall be entitled to vote and the presiding officer shall make the necessary arrangements to identify such electors.
Once everyone has voted, the ballot box is sealed and taken to the count location. The ballot papers are then verified and counted with the result being declared by the Returning Officer.