How to vote


How do I register to vote?

You must register in order to vote in UK elections including general elections. Registering to vote only takes a couple of minutes, and all you need is your national insurance number (if you have one). There are a number of different ways that you can register to vote.


Registering online

You will need to fill out a quick online form. Northern Ireland residents see later section. For members of the Armed Forces, Crown Servants or British Council employees or the spouse of one of these employees and likely to be abroad for the election, you will need to follow a different link, see below.


Register by post

You will need to print off the form (found using the link below) and send it to your local Electoral Registration Office:

Alternatively you can contact your local Electoral Registration Office and ask them to post a form to you:


Overseas voters

If you are a British citizen living abroad, you can apply to be an overseas voter. You must have been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years and be eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections and European Parliamentary elections.

If you were too young to register when you left the UK, you can still register as an overseas voter. You can do this if your parent or guardian was registered to vote in the UK, as long as you left the UK no more than 15 years ago.

You can register to vote using the same methods listed above.


Northern Ireland

If you live in Norther Ireland, registering to vote is slightly different. You will need to print off and complete an Electoral Registration Form and return it to your specific Area Electoral Office. You can find the form from the link below:


How do I 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. If you are on the electoral register, you will receive a poll card before the election telling you where and when to vote. Polling stations are often schools or local halls near where you live and are open between 7am and 10pm.  If you’re disabled, your local Electoral Registration Office can give you more information about the accessibility of the location.

1) On the election day go to your local polling station, (if you need assistance getting to the polling station contact your electoral registration office 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.

2) You will need to give your name and address to the staff in the polling station, who will check that you are on the electoral register. You do not need to show your polling card, and therefore don’t need your polling card to vote.

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) Finally fold your ballot paper in half and place in the ballot box.


Postal Voting

Anyone in England, Scotland and Wales can apply for a postal vote – you don’t need to give a reason. It can also be used to vote from abroad.

To vote by post, you need to first be on the electoral register. Then you need to fill in a postal vote application form. You can apply to vote by post here. After completing the form, you’ll need to print it, sign it, and send it back to your local electoral registration office. This can be found by following the link. You need to sign your application form personally because the electoral registration office needs a copy of your signature for voting security reasons, and therefore can’t fill in this form online.

Postal votes are normally sent out approximately one week before polling day. The deadline for postal vote applications is eleven working days before polling day. You will need to send your completed ballot paper back to your local registration office, and ensure it gets there before 10pm at night for it to be counted. If you have left it too late for the postal service you make take your ballot paper to your local polling station.

The system is slightly different for Northern Ireland.


Proxy Voting

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). You can ask anyone to act as your proxy – as long as they’re registered to vote and they’re allowed to vote in the same type of election. You can even be a proxy for 2 people at the same election, or more if the extra people are close relatives. The deadline for applying to vote by proxy is normally 5pm, 6 working days before an election.

To apply to vote via a proxy, you will need to fill in a certain form and return to your local registration office, which can be found here. The forms vary depending on your circumstances so make sure you choose the correct form. All the forms can be found here.

Emergency Proxy – In certain circumstances, where you have an emergency that means you cannot go to the polling station in person you can apply for an emergency proxy up to 5pm on the day of the poll. Find out more here.

Again voting by proxy is different in Northern Ireland.