Voting in person at a polling station
The traditional way to vote in the United Kingdom is to attend your local polling station and vote in person. A poll card will be sent to you provided you are registered and eligible to vote in that election. If you have applied to vote by post then you will not be able to vote at the polling station and will receive a poll card to inform you that you have a postal vote. If you are not registered as an elector you will not be able to vote.
The poll card tells you when the election will be held and where to go to cast your vote, it will make it easier to find your name on the electoral register if you take the poll card with you to the polling station.
If you lose the poll card or forget to take it with you to the polling station, then you can still vote, provided your name is on the register. At the polling station, the poll clerk or presiding officer should ask you for your name and address, once this is confirmed they will issue you with a ballot paper. If you do not receive a poll card then please contact the elections office on 01932 425650, as they should be able to explain why this may have happened.
On arrival at your polling station the Presiding Officer will ask you to state your name and address they will then issue you with a ballot paper marked with the official stamp.
You should take the ballot paper to one of the voting booths and mark an "X" in the box on the right hand side of the paper against the name of the candidate(s) you wish to vote for. The maximum number of votes you can make is detailed at the top of the ballot paper.
If you make a mistake or spoil your paper you can take it back to the Presiding Officer and request they issue you with another.
When you are happy with your vote, fold the Ballot Paper and put it into the ballot box.
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Application to vote by post
Applications can be made for a single election, for a specified period or permanently. You can apply for a postal vote at any time until 5pm 11 working days before an election (except in a medical emergency when you can apply to vote by proxy up until 5pm on election day), provided you do not already have any absent voting arrangements in place.
The deadline for making changes to or cancelling existing arrangements is also 5pm 11 working days before polling.
You do not need to wait for an election to be announced to apply to vote by post, you can apply at any time throughout the year provided you already have an entry on the register of electors.
You cannot sign an application on behalf of another elector even if you have Power of Attorney.
A postal vote can be sent to your home address or any other address specified by you. If your application is successful you will be sent a letter confirming this.
Postal votes can be sent overseas, but you need to consider whether there would be time for you to receive and return your ballot paper by polling day. If you live overseas permanently you will need to register as an overseas elector.
Download an application to register as an overseas voter.
Postal votes are usually dispatched 10 days before the date of the election. If you are going to be out of the country during the run up to an election and would like a postal vote, please check with the elections office to discuss the practicalities as it may not be possible to receive and return the paperwork in time for your vote to be counted.
If you have been sent a postal vote, you cannot vote in person at a polling station.
Postal votes can be posted back to the council offices or returned by hand to the council offices or polling station before the close of poll. If you have not received the postal vote or it have mislaid it, please contact the elections office, as a replacement can be issued from the Electoral Services office up until 5pm on Polling day. In these circumstances proof of identity will need to be provided in order to obtain a replacement.
Postal votes have to be received at the council or polling station by the close of poll on polling day.
Download an application form to vote by post.
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Application to vote by Proxy
This means appointing someone to vote for you on your behalf in your polling station.
You can apply for a proxy vote at any time up until 5pm 6 working days before an election.
You do not need to wait for an election to be announced. You cannot sign an application on behalf of an elector even if you have Power of Attorney. You need to tell your proxy which candidate(s) you wish to vote for.
You have to provide a reason to vote by proxy for a single election. You can only vote by proxy on an indefinite basis for the following reasons: physical incapacity or being registered blind, overseas voter, studying, requiring a journey by sea or air to get to the polling station, and certain occupations e.g. Armed Forces.
If you change your mind and wish to vote in person, you can still do so, providing that your proxy has not already voted on your behalf. If your proxy cannot get to your polling station, they can apply to vote by post. However, if they chose this option, you will not then be able to vote in person.
Following new regulations in 2006 it is now possible to apply for an emergency proxy vote up until 5pm on polling day. This applies only in the case of a medical emergency occurring after the sixth day before polling day. The application to vote by proxy must be attested (by a doctor, registered state nurse, or Christian science practitioner).
Proxy application form or for further information
Although some means of electronic voting such as voting by email, text message or having electronic voting screens in polling stations have been piloted in other boroughs there are no provisions for these methods of voting to become lawful for all elections.
What if I have impaired vision and cannot see the ballot paper clearly?
All forms are available in a larger print version on request.
During an election, there are a number of provisions in place for people with disabilities. These include a device called a 'selector', which enables blind or partially sighted people to vote unaided. There are ramps allowing easy access to polling stations and provision for voters who are unable to vote without assistance to be helped by a companion. Alternatively, any blind or partially sighted voter can request assistance from the Presiding Officer on duty. You can also take a companion with you to help you.
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