How to vote
Two weeks before polling day, you'll get a Polling Card in the post, telling you when and where you vote. The card is only for information, so don't worry if you lose it or forget to take it with you. You can vote without it as long as your name is in the Register of Electors.
What happens at the polling station?
Your name must be on the Register of electors before you can vote.
At the Polling Station, give your name and address and you'll be given a ballot paper. Check that it is stamped with the official mark.
Go to one of the polling booths and mark a cross (X) in the right-hand box of the ballot paper opposite the name(s) of the candidate(s) you wish to vote for. The ballot paper tells you how many candidates you may vote for. Don't vote for more than this number. Please don't put any other marks on the ballot paper, or your vote may not be counted. If you spoil a ballot paper by mistake, show it to the Presiding Officer and ask for another one.
Fold the ballot paper in two. Show the official mark to the Presiding Officer, but don't let anyone see your vote. Put the ballot paper in the ballot box and leave the polling station.
If you've been granted a postal vote you won't be allowed to vote at the Polling Station.
If you've appointed someone else to vote for you (a proxy), you may vote at an election yourself if you do it before your proxy has voted on your behalf.
Before an election, you'll get a poll card saying where your polling station is. Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm. As long as you're in the queue by 10pm, you'll be allowed to vote. When you get to the polling station, tell the staff your name and they'll give you your ballot paper. Take your ballot paper into a polling booth. Remember to be respectful of other people so everyone can vote in secret. There'll be a pencil in the polling booth, but you're welcome to use your own pen, if you like. Mark who you want to vote for on the ballot paper as it instructs. You may have two or more ballot papers for different elections. Don't worry if you make a mistake, just ask a member of staff and they'll give you a new ballot paper. When you've completed your choices put your ballot paper in the ballot box. If you're unsure about anything or need assistance, just ask a member of staff and they will be happy to explain the process before you vote. At the end of the day, the ballot box is taken away for all the votes to be counted. Your vote will be kept safe and secret, and no one will find out who you voted for. And that's it. Learn more about how to cast your vote at electoralcommission.org.uk/learning.
Will anyone find out how I voted?
Sometimes people worry that the elections are not a secret ballot because a number is printed on the back of the ballot paper and the elector's number is written on a list before the ballot paper is given out. It's possible that after the election these numbers could be matched to give the identity of the elector.
However, the Returning Officer is required by law to keep the Corresponding Numbers Lists in a separate container to the one containing the counted ballot papers. These containers can only be opened if a court orders it because election malpractice or fraud is suspected.
The ballot is secret and no-one need be concerned that their vote will be traced.
What if I can't get to the polling station?
Vote by post
Some people find voting by post easier than going to the Polling Station. You can register to vote by post for a specific election or for all elections.
If you're going to be away from home on polling day or you are unable to get to the polling station for any reason, you can register to vote by post. To vote by post, you need to apply to your local council. You can download a form or you can ask for one to be sent to you. You'll need to give your signature and date of birth on your application form and again when you vote. This is to confirm who you are. A postal vote pack will be sent to you before the election. Follow the instructions and put everything back in the freepost, pre-addressed envelope and post it to your council to be counted. If you forget to post your vote, it can be dropped off at a polling station on the day of the election. Remember, your postal vote needs to get back to your council by 10pm on polling day if you want your vote to be counted in the election. Learn more about how to cast your vote at electoralcommission.org.uk/learning.
Vote by proxy
You can nominate someone to vote on your behalf at the Polling Station. They are called a 'proxy'. If you'd like someone to vote as your proxy, you need to choose a person you trust to go and vote for you.
If you can't get to the polling station on polling day you can ask someone you trust to vote on your behalf. This is called voting by 'proxy'. And your trusted person is often called your 'proxy'. To vote by proxy you need to apply to your council. You can download an application form or you can ask for this to be sent to you. You'll need to tell your trusted person who you'd like to vote for. On polling day, they need to go to your polling station to vote. This may be different to where they go to vote. They need to tell the polling station staff your name and also their own name and then they will follow the normal process to vote at a polling station. If your trusted person can't get to the polling station, they can apply to vote by post. This is called a 'postal proxy'. Learn more about how to cast your vote at electoralcommission.org.uk/learning.
For more information, see our page about nominating someone to vote for you.