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.
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.
How do I register to vote?
You can register at any time of the year.
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 email@example.com 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.
Can I vote?
You must be registered in order to vote. All eligible citizens can register.
You must be a resident of an area in order to vote there.
16 and 17 year olds can apply to register, so that they are able to vote as soon as they turn 18.
If you move house or change your nationality you’ll need to re-register. If you have changed your name, it's easier to apply to re-register online, or you can ask your local electoral office for a change of name form.
There are special arrangements in place to help certain groups of people to vote:
Anonymous registration - You can register anonymously if you are concerned about your name and address appearing on the electoral register because you think that it could affect your safety, or the safety of someone in your household.
Service voters have special arrangements available to them. These include members of HM Forces and their spouses/civil partners, as well as Crown Servants and employees of the British Council posted overseas.
Declaration of local connection It is possible to declare a connection to a local area in order to vote, if you do not have a fixed address, you have been held on remand, or you are a long-term patient in
a mental hospital.
There are a number of exceptions to these rules. Find out more at yourvotematters.co.uk.
What elections can I vote in?
A person can only vote in an election taking place in the area in which they have been registered.
To vote for your MP you must be:
- Registered to vote in the area;
- 18 or above on polling day; and
- A British citizen, qualifying Commonwealth citizen, or citizen of the Republic of Ireland.
British citizens resident overseas are also eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary elections provided they were last registered to vote in the UK within the past 15 years.
For other elections (see list below) you must be:
- Registered to vote in the area;
- 18 or above on polling day (16 in Scotland); and
- A British citizen, qualifying Commonwealth citizen, citizen of the Republic of Ireland or citizen of another EU Member State resident in the UK.
If i'm at university, can I vote there and at home?
When a person is registered in more than one place, they can vote in local government elections in two (or more) different places. In this case, they are not casting more than one vote in an election to the same body, but voting to elect councillors to different councils.
I might already be registered. How can I check?
Once registered to vote you do not need to do so again, unless you change your name, nationality or address. Electoral Registration Officers contact each household in their area each year to confirm that the registration details they hold for that property are accurate.
If you are registered to vote, you will also receive a poll card about six weeks before the elections.
If you are unsure if you are registered already, you can check with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no automatic registration process, so unless you have registered individually, you are not on the electoral register.
How can I cancel my postal or proxy vote?
If you would like to cancel a current postal or proxy vote please email email@example.com
You will need to include:
- Your name
- Your address
- A statement that you wish to cancel you postal voting (or proxy voting) arrangements with immediate effect
Please note that should you wish to cancel a postal vote when an election has been called, this must be done before the postal vote application deadline.
What happens in a polling booth?
We've produced a short video that shows you exactly what happens at a Polling Station.
Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm for all UK elections, so everyone should have time to vote. If you can’t make it to the polling station you can apply for a postal vote or ask someone else to cast your vote for you (a proxy).
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.
Where can I find out more information on the political parties?
You can find more information on political parties’ policies and manifestos on their websites.
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.