One week to go - a guide to polling day on 2 May

Elections and referenda

When do polling stations open? What if I’ve lost my poll card? Can I take my children? Here’s a guide, answering the most common questions we get asked around polling day.

With only a few days left until voters go to the polls to choose Surrey’s next Police and Crime Commissioner on Thursday 2 May, we're urging voters to make sure they’re ready to vote with our guide to polling day.

Local elections also take place in six out of the 11 Surrey boroughs and districts on 2 May, including us in Runnymede, Elmbridge, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Tandridge, and Woking. There are no scheduled local elections in Epsom and Ewell, Guildford, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, or Waverley. However Waverley Borough Council has an unscheduled by-election in the Witley and Milford Borough Ward.


You can see who the four Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner candidates are on the website which includes candidate photos and campaign statements. For more information on  local election candidates, please visit each local council's website.

Use your vote

Mari Roberts-Wood, Managing Director at Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, is the Police Area Returning Officer (PARO) responsible for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Surrey this time, including ensuring they are run and promoted consistently across the county. She is also the Returning Officer (RO) for the local Borough elections and the Electoral Registration Officer for Reigate and Banstead Borough Council.

Mari Roberts-Wood said: “Take a look at our polling day guide to make sure you’re ready to vote on 2 May. The Police and Crime Commissioner elections and the local elections are an important opportunity to have your say on who represents you and makes decisions on local matters.

“If you’re voting in person, don’t forget to bring your photo ID because you’ll need it to be able to cast your vote. Also check the information on your poll card before going to vote in case your polling station has changed since the last election. You do not need your poll card to vote, but it helps if you bring it with you to make the process quicker.” 

A guide to polling day

Polling station opening times

Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 2 May 2024.

Poll cards and how to find your polling station

In person voters will have been sent a poll card in the run up to the election day which will tell them which polling station to go to. Make sure you check it before heading out, in case your polling station has changed since the last time you voted.

If you have not received your poll card by polling day, you will still be able to vote as long as you bring an accepted form of photo ID.

You can also find your polling station by entering your postcode into the website.

You need to go to your designated polling station; you can’t go to a different one, for example, near where you work.

Photo ID

Remember to bring your photo ID to the polling station or you won’t be able to vote. This is a requirement under the Elections Act, introduced last year. Many forms of photo ID are accepted, including your passport, photocard driving license, blue badge, and a biometric immigration document. A wider range of photo ID is accepted this year. To see the full list of photo ID you can use, visit the Electoral Commission’s website.

You can still use your photo ID if it's out of date, as long as it still looks like you. The name on your ID must be the same name you used to register to vote.

If you get to the polling station and have not got a valid form of ID, you will be asked to return with a photo ID that is accepted.

Voting by post

If you have opted to vote by post, make sure you return your postal ballot in good time. The deadline to apply for a postal vote for the elections on 2 May was by 5pm on Wednesday 17 April. If you don’t get around to posting yours in time, you can hand it in at your polling station or hand deliver it to your Local Council Office up until 10pm on polling day. You can find your polling station by entering your postcode into the website.

This year, there are changes to how you hand in a postal vote. Anyone bringing in a postal vote will now have to complete a postal vote return form. If you do not do this, the postal vote will be rejected.

The form will also need to be countersigned, so it cannot just be completed and left. A member of our elections team will need to go through it with you.

You are now limited to handing in a maximum of five postal votes, in addition to your own (six in total).

Political campaigners are no longer allowed to hand in postal votes unless they all belong to close relatives, or someone they provide regular care to.

To help the public through these changes, our office in Addlestone is open every weekday between 9am and 5pm until election day. Staff will be on hand and postal vote return forms will be available.

A notice will go on our letterbox explaining that any postal vote posted through it will be rejected.

The exact same rules for completing a postal vote return form also apply to anyone who returns a postal vote at a polling station on election day.

Wearing face coverings

There will be a private area for people to show their identity if needed, such as those who wear face coverings.

There will be a mirror available in the polling station to allow you to replace your face covering once your ID has been checked.

How to complete your ballot papers

Take your time: read the ballot papers carefully and complete them in line with the instructions. Don't write anything else on the paper, or your vote may be spoiled and not counted.

If you make a mistake, as long as you haven't already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can give you a replacement ballot paper.

Once you're done, fold your completed ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box on the desk beside the poll clerks.

Staff will be on hand at polling stations to assist voters with any questions about filling out their ballot paper.

If you need help

Our polling stations have ramps, wheelchair accessible polling booths and visual aids. Polling station staff will be on hand to help anyone who needs it, and carers or support workers can also help. Assistance dogs are welcome too.

If you have a visual impairment, you can ask for a large print ballot paper to refer to when you cast your vote, or a special tactile voting device to enable you to mark your ballot paper on your own.

Coming with family, friends, children or your dog?

You can go to the polling station with whomever you like, but only those adults registered to vote at that station will be able to go inside.

Children are welcome. While your child must not mark the ballot paper for you, you can take them into the polling booth with you.

You must not be accompanied into the polling booth by another adult, unless you have a disability, in which case you can take someone in to help you, or you can ask one of the polling station staff for their help.

Animals, apart from assistance dogs, are not usually allowed inside, so will need to be secured outside if you do decide to take them with you. We love a #dogsatpollingstations and #petsatpollingstations photo, so if you take one, do tag us on Instagram @Runnymede_BoroughCouncil and we’ll share the best ones.

Photos or selfies

You’re not allowed to take photos inside the polling station as it puts the secrecy of the ballot at risk. You are welcome to take photos outside the polling station and share them on social media to let others know you’ve voted and encourage them to vote too.


Tellers might be outside the polling station and ask you for the number on your poll card. They are volunteering on behalf of candidates or parties and use the information to check who has voted, and to remind people who haven't yet voted, to do so.

They are allowed to be there and to ask for the information, but you don't have to give it to them if you don’t want to. If you are concerned about the conduct of a teller, speak to a member of polling station staff.

Should I tell anyone who I voted for?

Your vote is yours and yours alone: you do not need to tell anyone how you voted.

Exit polls are sometimes conducted - usually by private companies working for newspapers or broadcasters - to ask voters who they voted for to help them predict what the outcome might be. You do not need to answer their questions if you don’t want to.

Political discussion is not allowed inside or immediately around the polling station so that there is no risk of influencing other voters. If you want to debate your vote with friends or family, please do it away from the polling station.

Voting by proxy

If you have applied for someone to vote on your behalf (a proxy), they will receive a proxy poll card telling them where and when to vote for you. The deadline to apply for a proxy for the elections on 2 May was by 5pm on Wednesday 24 April.

If you’re voting on behalf of someone else as their proxy, remember that you need to go to their polling station to do so, rather than yours, and you will need to take your own photo ID to the polling station to be able to vote.

How you can vote if you are unwell

If you become unwell or an emergency means that you cannot get to a polling station to vote, you don’t need to miss out on your vote. You can apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day, so someone you trust can vote on your behalf. You can arrange it by contacting the elections team.

More information from the Electoral Commission website

Published: 25 April 2024