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Voting in person

Find out more about how to vote in person at a polling station when an election takes place.

Polling station sign on a gate (c)

How to vote

Your poll card will tell you to which polling station you should go. This is often a community hall or school close to your home.

Polling stations are usually open between 7am and 10pm but this will be confirmed for each election.

On arrival at your designated polling station, staff will ask you to confirm your name and address and will issue you with a ballot paper. You don't need your poll card to vote.

The ballot paper will list the candidates you can vote for and will be marked with an official stamp.

You should take the ballot paper to the voting booth and mark with an 'X' the candidate you wish to vote for. Don't make any other marks on the ballot paper otherwise your vote may not be counted.

Fold the ballot paper and deposit it in the ballot box. Don't show your vote to anyone else.

If you need help, or if you have a physical or visual impairment, ask polling station staff for advice.

Help getting to the polling station

If you're disabled and need help to get to the polling station, contact your local elections office at your district or borough council to find out what help is available.

You can also ask to have a companion with you when you vote.

COVID-19 and polling day

All local election officers are working hard to put in place extra measures to ensure polling stations are safe places to visit and are COVID-secure.

If you're voting in person, you may notice some changes to usual arrangements which will be in place to keep you and staff working in polling stations safe and protected. These include the use of screens where necessary, hand sanitising stations and in some places marshals who will help with social-distancing should queues form.

Measures in place may slightly differ from venue to venue, but all polling stations will have been fully risk-assessed to ensure they are COVID-secure.

Due to the extra measures, polling stations may be busier than usual and it may take slightly longer than usual for you to cast your vote, so please be patient.

You can find out what changes to expect by watching this short film from the Electoral Commission.

Before you go to cast your vote, check where your polling station is as some may have moved to alternative venues more suited to allow for social-distancing. Clean pencils will be available in some venues but you are strongly encouraged to take your own pen or pencil.

You must wear a face covering unless you are exempt.

Other changes might be:

  • a socially-distanced queue outside the polling station as there may be a limit to the number of people who can enter at any one time
  • there may be a marshal outside to assist with the queueing system
  • there may be a one-way system in place
  • you will have to sanitise your hands on entering the polling station
  • booths will be regularly wiped down with disinfectant
  • screens will be in place (where necessary) to separate polling staff from voters
  • polling station staff will be wearing masks or visors unless they are protected by screens and it's safe not to do so

Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm, and if you arrive at a station and are still in the queue at 10pm you will still be able to cast your vote.

You must not attend a polling station if you have recently had a positive test for coronavirus, have symptoms or are self-isolating.

You will be able to apply for an emergency proxy vote up until 5pm on 6 May 2021.

Every effort will be made to ensure polling stations are COVID-secure, but if you do not want to vote in person there are other ways to do so.

Find out about alternative ways of voting, including voting by post and how to apply for an emergency proxy vote. Or visit the website of your district and borough councils.