As long as you are eligible to vote, you can choose to vote at a polling station, by post or by proxy
Who is eligible to vote?
To vote in elections you must:
- be 18 years old or over on the day of the election;
- be a British, Commonwealth, Irish or European Union citizen;
- not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote, such as being in prison;
- be registered on the electoral register, It does not matter if you meet the criteria above, if you are not registered, you will not be able to vote.
European Union citizens (other than British or Irish citizens) are only entitled to vote at local elections and European Parliamentary elections. They cannot vote in UK Parliamentary elections.
How can I vote?
There are 3 ways you can vote:
- at the polling station specified on your poll card which will be posted out to you before the election;
- by post - a ballot paper will be posted out to you before the day of the election. You can then mark your vote in secret and post it back to us;
- by proxy by appointing someone to vote on your behalf.
Voting at a Polling Station
You can vote at your polling station between 7:00am and 10:00pm on polling day. You should give your name and address to the polling staff on duty who will check your details against their register. The Presiding Officer will then give you your ballot paper(s) and you can complete them in the ballot booth. You should then go back to the Presiding Officer and place your ballot paper(s) in the ballot box.
Voting by Post
If you cannot, or do not want to vote at the polling station, you can apply to vote by post by downloading an application form from the right hand side of this page. You can send in your application at any time, but it is suggested that you complete and send it in early - don't wait until an election date is known. If you are applying to vote by post just before an election, your form must be received by the specified deadline. For information of deadline dates, please see the 'Forthcoming Elections' page.
Postal votes are normally sent to your home address approximately one week before the election. However, you can ask for it to be sent to another address. We can send postal votes overseas, but please remember that it may not get back to us in time. Completed postal votes must be received by 10:00pm on election day; any later than this and your vote will not be counted. If you are going on holiday, or are unsure if your postal vote will arrive on time, you should contact Electoral Services as soon as possible.
You can choose to vote by post permanently, or for a specific election or period of time. If you wish to cancel your postal vote, you must do this in writing. You should contact us straight away in you have moved house, or you may lose your postal vote.
Voting by proxy
Voting by proxy means appointing someone to cast your vote on your behalf and telling them which candidate(s) you want to vote for. You can apply to vote by proxy by downloading an application form from the right hand side of this page. You can send in your application at any time, but to be effective for an election, it must be received by the specified deadline. For information of deadline dates, please see the 'Forthcoming Elections' page.
Unlike voting by post, there are restrictions if you wish to vote by proxy.
Proxy Voting for an indefinite period
If you would like to vote by proxy for an indefinite period, your application must be supported by a qualified person.
If you are applying due to ill health or disability, your application should be supported by a registered medical practitioner, a registered nurse or Christian Science practitioner. If you are in a residential home or sheltered accommodation, the matron, home care director or warden may support your application. If you are registered blind or partially sighted or receive a mobility allowance, you do not need to have your application supported but must give details of your registration or allowance number.
If you would like to vote by proxy for employment reasons as you work away for long periods, you must have your application supported by your employer. If you are self-employed, your application must be supported by someone who is aged 18 or over, who knows you and is not related to you.
If you would like to vote by proxy as you are studying away from home, your application must be supported by the director or tutor of the course, the principal or head of the Institution or by an employee to whom this duty has been delegated.
Proxy voting at an election on a particular day
If you are away on holiday, on a short business trip or training course, recovering from an accident or illness or there is another reason why you cannot go to the polling station on a particular day, you can apply to vote by proxy but do not need your application supporting.
You must give a reason for your application and remember that this type of application will only cover elections held on a specific date. If you wanted to vote by proxy after that date, you would need to reapply. Once your application has been received, we will contact you if you are not entitled to vote by proxy or confirm that your application has been accepted.
Who can be appointed to vote on your behalf?
The person you appoint as your proxy must be at least 18 years old and not disqualified to vote in his or her own right. For a Parliamentary election, the proxy must be a British, Commonwealth or Irish citizen. For Local Government or European Parliamentary elections, he or she may be a citizen of the European Union.
No-one may act as a proxy for more than two people at the same election, unless he or she is the spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild of the voter.
Electors can apply for an emergency proxy vote for reasons of physical incapacity after the last day to apply for a proxy vote. Emergency proxy vote applications can only be applied for after the closing date for new applications for proxy votes and by no later the 5:00pm on the day of the election. The applicant is required to give a reason for the application and declare that they could not have made their application earlier. An application has to be certified by a registered medical practitioner, a registered nurse, a Christian Science practitioner or the manager, warden or matron of the residential home in which the applicant resides. Further information and emergency proxy application forms are available from Electoral Services.