Voting, standing as a candidate and the electoral register
Everyone in the UK has a local council, an MP who sits in the UK Parliament, and members of the European Parliament who represent you in Europe.
As a registered voter, you have the right to cast your vote to determine who will represent you.
The section below will provide you with the information you need to know if you want to vote or stand as a candidate in an election.
Register to vote
Register to vote online, it is the quickest and easiest way. You’ll just need your National Insurance number, date of birth and address.
If you can’t register online, you can either:
- Print paper forms from the GOV.UK website
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01935 462462 and ask for the forms to be posted to you.
Go to Your Vote Matters to find more information on registering to vote.
Current elections and referenda
You can find information about current elections and candidates on our current elections and referenda page.
What is the Electoral Register?
The electoral register (sometimes called the ‘electoral roll’) lists the names and addresses of everyone who’s registered to vote.
Use the register to vote service to:
- get on the electoral register
- update your details (for example change your name or address)
To check whether you’re already on the register, contact us.
Further guidance on the Electoral Register is available through the Government website.
What is the Open Register?
The Open Register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. It is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed.
Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.
If you are on the open register and don't want to be, contact us.
Voting in person
Providing your name is on the electoral register, you will receive a poll card which tells you where you should go when there is an election taking place in which you are eligible to cast a vote.
If you have already chosen to vote by post then you will receive a poll card which tells you when and where your voting papers will be sent.
Voting by post
Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station.
Just so you know, postal ballots can only be sent out when there is an election and the deadline to become a candidate has passed. This is the point when ballot papers will be produced and printed.
The Electoral Commission has produced some excellent guidance on how to vote by post including providing the form you need to apply.
Voting by proxy
Proxy voting means that if you aren't able to cast your vote in person, you can have someone you trust cast your vote for you.
The Electoral Commission has provided the full guide to everything you need to know about the process.
You could be eligible to vote by proxy if you have a disability and unable to attend a polling station, are overseas or in the armed forces among other reasons.
What happens in a polling booth?
- After arriving at the polling station which appears on your poll card, you’ll need to speak to the election staff at the desk. Tell them your name and address.
- They will mark the register to show you have voted and give you the ballot paper(s) you are entitled to.
- You will need to go to one of the empty polling booths and mark a cross (X) in the box on the right hand side of the ballot paper(s), opposite the name of each candidate you are voting for. Make sure you put no other mark or writing on the ballot paper, or your vote may not be counted. Fold the ballot paper(s) to keep your vote secret.
- Go back to the desk and show the election staff the numbering on the back of the ballot paper, before you put the ballot paper(s) in the ballot box and leave the polling station.
- Our staff at the polling stations are there to help you and if you need any assistance (for instance someone to read you the list of candidates) they will be happy to do this for you.
How to register to stand as a candidate
If you want to stand as a candidate in an election taking place in South Somerset, you will find all the information you need on the site provided by the Electoral Commission.
The guidance for elections covers:
- standing for election
- accepting donations
- spending money
- your rights as a candidate, including access to election proceedings
- reporting after the election
If you are aged 18 and a British citizen, you can stand for local election subject to further criteria which is listed here.
For more information, contact us.