Make your vote count
Casting your vote.
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 and there is always 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, and you do not need to take it to the polling station in order to vote.
The following five steps explain how to vote at your polling station on election day:
- On election day, go to your local polling station. Polling station opening hours are 7am - 10pm. 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.
If you have never voted at a polling station before, or are unsure how to do it, click here to see an animated walkthrough of voting in person.
If you have a postal vote in place, you will be sent a postal vote for elections that you are eligible for. Postal votes are usually sent out about ten days before election day. Make sure you send it back so that it arrives by close of poll (which is 10pm on election day) - if it arrives later than this your vote won't be counted.
When you get your postal voting papers put them somewhere safe and don't let anyone else handle them.
When you complete your postal vote ensure that you mark your ballot paper in secret, put the ballot paper in the envelope and seal it yourself, complete the security statement by providing your date of birth and signature, and then 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 your can, or if you can't, give it to somebody you know and trust to post it for you.
Alternatively a postal vote can be handed in at a polling station on election day during polling hours within the counting area for that election (for example, in a district election the ward is the local counting area, so a postal vote for an elector within a ward can be handed in at any polling station in that ward).
If you have a proxy vote in place, your appointed proxy will be able to attend the polling station on election day for any elections that you are eligible for and cast a vote on your behalf.
The proxy will not be able to cast your vote unless they take the proxy poll card to the polling station with them – they will receive this in the post prior to election day. This will give the proxy instructions on the process of casting your vote. Please ensure that you have briefed the proxy prior to election day as to how they are to cast your vote.
If you change your mind on election day about allowing your proxy to vote on your behalf, you can attend the polling station and vote in person, providing your proxy has not already voted on your behalf.
Postal Proxy Voting
If you have a postal proxy in place, your proxy will be sent a postal vote for elections that you are eligible for. Postal votes are usually sent out about ten days before election day – your proxy needs to make sure it is sent back so that it arrives by close of poll (which is 10pm on election day). If it arrives later than this your vote won't be counted.
The proxy will need to complete the postal vote as per the instructions accompanying it, and on the security statement they will need to provide their date of birth and signature (as they did on the original application form). Once completed, they should post it as soon as possible to allow plenty of time for it to reach us.
Please note that, even if you change your mind on election day about allowing your proxy to vote on your behalf, you are not able to vote at your polling station on polling day if your proxy has been issued a postal vote.