No one may vote at an election unless their name appears in the register of electors.
The register is prepared by the electoral registration officer at the district, borough or city council.
The register is in force for a period of one year from 16 February each year. A person who has not reached the age of 18 by that date, but will do so during the life-span of the register, will have the date of their 18th birthday entered against their name. No person may vote until they have reached their 18th birthday.
Each candidate is entitled to a copy of the register as far as it relates to the electoral area and the absent voters list.
To find out if you are registered to vote contact your district, borough or city council.
Why you should vote
It's important to register to vote and use your vote as it gives you a say on who represents you on local matters such as:
- how your council tax is spent
- health and social care for you and your family
- your community
- local services like libraries
- looking after the countryside
- protecting your rights through trading standards
- your roads, pavements and rights of way
- your child's education
Voting in person
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. 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.
Voting by post or by proxy
You can apply for a postal or proxy vote if you're unable to go to your polling station on election day. A proxy is someone who you nominate to vote on your behalf.
You may want to apply for a postal or proxy vote if:
- you have a permanent physical incapacity, are registered blind or receive the higher rate of mobility component of the disability living allowance for a physical disability you are eligible for a permanent postal or proxy vote - the form requires the declaration that the information is correct from a doctor, nurse or warden of a home
- your work frequently takes you overseas
- you'll be on holiday when the election is taking place
- you've moved house since you registered and are unable to go to your old polling station
- you're working during all hours of voting, for example as a member of the election staff
You can apply for a postal vote when you register to vote. You can also do this through your district, borough or city council.
If you'd like to apply for a proxy vote you must contact your district or borough council. A request for an emergency proxy vote can be made to your district or borough council.