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In this section, you can find out about the different ways of casting your vote. In the UK, there are three different ways you can vote.
Most people vote in person at a polling station. However, if you are not able to go to the polling station in person on election day, you can apply to vote by post or by proxy (where someone votes on your behalf).
How you vote is up to you - however, to vote you must first be registered on the Voter (Electoral) Register. To register, please visit Register to vote for more information.
Voting in person
Most people in the UK choose to cast their vote in person at a local polling station. Voting at a polling station is very straightforward. There will always be a member of staff available to help if you're not sure what to do.
If you are on the electoral register, you will receive a poll card before the election telling you where and when to vote. The polling station is often a school or local hall near where you live.
The poll card is for your information only - you do not need to take it to the polling station in order to vote.
How voting in person works
- On election day, go to your local polling station. Polling stations are open between 7am and 10pm. If you need assistance getting to the polling station, contact your electoral registration office on 01642 526196 to find out if they can help. You can also ask to have a companion with you when you vote, or staff in the polling station may be able to help you.
- Tell the staff inside the polling station your name and address so they can check that you are on the electoral register. You can show them your poll card, but you do not need it to vote.
- The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper listing the parties and candidates you can vote for. You may be given more than one ballot paper if there is more than one election on the same day. If you have a visual impairment, you can ask for a special voting device that allows you to vote on your own in secret.
- Take your ballot paper into a polling booth so that no one can see how you vote. Read the ballot paper carefully, it will tell you how to cast your vote.
- Do not write anything else on the paper or your vote may not be counted.
- Finally, when you have marked your vote, fold the ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box. Do not let anyone see your vote. If you are not clear on what to do, ask the staff at the polling station to help you.
Put your postcode in the system below to find out which elections you can vote in and where to vote.
Voting by post
Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station.
For further information, you should contact Electoral Services on 01642 526196.
Once you are registered you need to fill in a postal vote application form and send it to your local electoral registration office:
Democratic Services (Electoral Registration),
Why do I need to sign my form?
You need to sign your application form personally because the electoral registration office needs a copy of your signature for voting security reasons. We know it's slightly less convenient than submitting it online, but it helps to ensure the security of your vote and is used to tackle electoral fraud.
Who can apply for a postal vote?
Anyone who is individually registered can apply for a postal vote. You do not need a reason to vote by post.
Where can I get my postal vote sent?
A postal vote can be set to your home address or any other address that you give.
Postal votes can be sent overseas, but you need to consider whether there will be enough time to receive and return your ballot paper by election day.
When will I receive my ballot papers?
Postal ballots can only be sent out once the deadline to become a candidate has passed and the ballot papers have subsequently been produced and printed. Contact your local electoral registration office for further information on when your postal ballot papers will be issued.
Once you've got it, mark your vote on the ballot paper and make sure you send it back so that it arrives by 10pm on the day of the election or referendum. If it arrives later than this, your vote won't be counted.
When you get your postal voting papers
- Put them somewhere safe
- Don't let anyone else handle them
- Make sure they are not left where someone else can pick them up
When you want to vote
- Complete your ballot paper in secret, on your own
- Don't let anyone else vote for you
- Don't let anyone else see your vote
- Don't give the ballot paper to anyone else
- Put the ballot paper in the envelope and seal it up yourself
- Complete and sign the postal voting statement
- Put the postal voting statement and the envelope containing your ballot paper into the larger envelope and seal it
When you return your postal vote
- Take it to the post box yourself, if you can
- If you can't do that, either give it to somebody you know and trust to post it for you
- Don't hand it to a candidate or party worker unless no other way is practical
- Don't leave it where someone else can pick it up
- Your postal vote must be received by the Returning Officer by 10pm on polling day. If it is received after this time, your vote will not be counted
Remember that this is your vote - so keep it to yourself!
If anyone tries to help you against your will, or force you to give them your postal vote, you should contact the police.
If you have any other queries, ring your local electoral registration office - you can get their contact details on this site by entering your postcode.
Voting by proxy
Voting by proxy is a convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station. Voting by proxy means that you appoint someone you trust to vote on your behalf.
Voting by proxy can be useful if you can't get to the polling station on election day, for example if you fall ill or you are abroad.
It 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 (for instance, if you are deployed overseas in the Armed Forces).
Applying to vote by proxy
In England, Scotland and Wales only electors who are (or will be) registered individually are entitled to apply to vote by proxy.
In addition, the person you wish to appoint as your proxy can only act as proxy if they are (or will be) registered individually.
For further information, you should contact your local electoral registration office on 01642 526196.
You can appoint a proxy for a particular election (such as local council elections) or for a definite or indefinite period of time (depending on the reason for the application, this form will need to be attested). Both forms can be found at the links below.
Once you are registered individually, you'll need to fill in a proxy vote application form and send to your local electoral registration office:
Democratic Services (Electoral Registration),