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Voting

The first step to voting is making sure your name is on the electoral register.

The deadline to register to vote is 5pm, 12 working days before an election.

You can vote in person, by post or by proxy. This page provides more information about each method.

GOV.UK has a simple guide to the voting process produced by Mencap.

Poll card

If you are eligible to vote at a polling station, you will be sent a poll card which will inform you of the date of the election, where your polling station is and the hours of poll.

Poll cards are normally delivered to all registered electors around two to three weeks before an election, usually before the deadline for applications for postal or proxy votes.

This card is for information only. Don't worry if you lose it or forget it - you can still vote without it, although it will help the staff at the polling station if you take it with you.

Voting at a polling station

There will be at least two members of staff in the polling station - a presiding officer and one or more assistants, known as poll clerks. You will be asked by the staff for your name and address. If you have a poll card it will help the staff but you will still be asked to confirm your name and address. It does not matter if you have forgotten your poll card as you will still be able to vote if you are registered.

The staff will check that your name is listed in the electoral register. When your details have been verified, you will be given a ballot paper, which you should take to a polling booth. A mark will be made against the register to show that you have voted. You will not be able to vote again in the same election.

Polling booths are provided to allow you to cast your vote in secrecy. If you need help to mark your ballot paper, e.g. because you are blind, you can either ask the presiding officer to help you or you can take a companion to the polling station with you. You must inform the presiding officer if you wish to do this as he or she will need to make a record of the number of votes not marked by the elector - this is to protect against fraud.

There will be a notice in the polling booth indicating how many candidates you can vote for. If you vote for more candidates than you are entitled to, your vote will not be counted.

After casting your vote, you should fold the ballot paper and place it in the ballot box, which will be situated next to the staff working at the polling station.

If I am unable to get to my polling station on Election Day, can I still vote?

If you are unable to get to your polling station on election day, you can apply to:

Any registered elector can apply to vote by post.

What is a postal vote?

Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station. Basically, your ballot paper will be posted to you approximately two weeks before the election. You then need to complete the ballot paper and the enclosed security statement and then either post the pack back, deliver it in person to the Electoral Services Office or deliver it on polling day to one of the polling stations in the electoral area. Whatever method of return is used, the ballot paper will only be counted if it is received by 10pm on the day of the election.

How can I arrange to vote by post?

You will need to complete an application form, which is available from the Electoral Services Office or by downloading a form (PDF).

The form can be returned by post or by hand to the Electoral Services Office, Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield, Middlesex, EN1 3XA or by scanning the application and attaching it to an email.

What is the closing date for applications for an election?

The deadline for the receipt of postal voting applications is 5pm on the eleventh working day before the day of the election.

What information will I need to provide?

The application form sets out the information you need to provide. However, two key pieces of information are needed for security purposes - your signature and your date of birth. Both of these identifiers will be stored and checked against those you provide on the statement that you will need to fill in and return with the ballot paper at an election.

Your signature and date of birth will be separated from your ballot paper before being checked. Giving this information will not affect the secrecy of your vote. However, if they do not match those originally provided, your postal vote will be invalidated for that election.

If you are unable to provide a signature for any reason, you can apply to have that requirement waived. In such cases, please contact Electoral Services on 020 8379 8588.

What is a proxy vote?

Voting by proxy is a convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station. By proxy just means that you appoint someone you trust to vote on your behalf. Their name will be held on a separate list at the polling station. You can vote yourself on polling day if necessary so long as you arrive at the polling station before your proxy.

Voting by proxy can also be useful if you fall ill and are unable to get to the polling station on polling day, or if you are abroad during an election. 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 in the Armed Forces and deployed overseas).

Eligibility requirements

Any registered elector can apply to vote by proxy. However, there are different application requirements dependent upon the reason for the application, although you must give a reason for needing to vote by proxy in every case. You can apply for a proxy vote if:

  • 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 that you cannot go to the polling station on election day
  • your attendance on an educational course means that you cannot go to the polling station on election day
  • you are a British citizen living overseas
  • you are a crown servant or a member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces
  • you are unable to go to the polling station as you have fallen ill or become incapacitated in the period immediately before an election

Arranging to vote by proxy

You will need to complete an application form, which is available from the Electoral Services Office or by downloading a form.

The form can be returned by post or by hand to the Electoral Services Office, Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield, Middlesex, EN1 3XA or by scanning the application and attaching it to an email.

Deadline for registering to vote by proxy

The general deadline for the receipt of proxy voting applications is 5pm on the sixth working day before the day of the election. However, if you fall ill or notified that you are required to work away after this time, you may apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day. In such instances, your application will, depending on the reasons, need to be countersigned by, for example, a member of the medical profession or your employer.

To cancel or amend a proxy vote, you have to inform us in writing by no later than 5pm on the sixth working day before the election.