How Do I Vote?
How do I vote?
You will receive a polling card in the post a few weeks before the election it will have details of your polling station, (or you can find it here).
Polling stations open from 7am – 10pm on the day of the election.
When you get to the polling station the staff will give you a ballot paper. If there is more than one election taking place in your local area on the same day you may receive more than one ballot paper.
You can then take your ballot paper into one of the polling booths so that no one can see who you are voting for. Read the ballot paper carefully, if you have been given several ballot papers make sure you know which election you are voting in.
Mark your ballot paper according to the instructions. Usually you are asked to put an X in the box of your preferred candidate.
There are a few different electoral systems used in the UK. Depending on the electoral system, your ballot paper might ask you to vote for one candidate or even list your candidates in order of preference.
Read our guides to the different electoral systems to see how to vote in each one.
If you’re worried about the integrity of elections in the UK we recommend you read our Q&A the Association of Electoral Administrators. They’ll tell you how your vote is protected, why election staff should be trusted, and why they use pencils not pens in polling stations.
You may also be interested in our behind the scenes guide to the 2019 General Election, written by someone involved in organising polling day.
From 4 May 2023, voters in England will need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations in some elections.
This will apply to:
- Local elections
- Police and Crime Commissioner elections
- UK parliamentary by-elections
- Recall petitions
From October 2023 it will also apply to UK General elections.
If you don’t have accepted photo ID, you can apply for a free voter ID document, which is known as a Voter Authority Certificate.
Find out more about accepted forms of photo ID, how to apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate, and what to expect on polling day.
What is a postal vote?
Voting by post is a way of voting that you can use if you are unable to get to the polling station. So, this method of voting means that you can cast your vote in your home constituency while living away at university.
To vote by post, you need to be registered to vote. Then you need to fill in a postal vote application form. Once you have completed the form, you’ll need to print it, sign it, and send it back to your local electoral registration office (find yours here).
The deadline for postal vote applications is usually eleven working days before polling day.
Your postal vote is normally sent out about a week before election day.
What is a proxy vote?
If you have reasons that mean you are unable to vote, it is possible to appoint someone to vote on your behalf, you will have to provide reasoning and appoint someone you trust to vote for you.
How do I spoil my ballot?
What happens if you don’t agree with any of the candidates available to you? Spoiling your ballot is one way to show your dissatisfaction.