Two weeks before polling day, you’ll get a Polling Card in the post, telling you when and where you vote. The card is only for information, so don’t worry if you lose it or forget to take it with you. You can vote without it as long as your name is in the Register of Electors.
Your name must be on the Register of Electors before you can vote.
For where to go, see our section about polling districts & places to vote
At the Polling Station, give your name and address and you’ll be given a ballot paper. Check that it is stamped with the official mark.
Go to one of the polling booths and mark a cross (X) in the right hand box of the ballot paper opposite the name(s) of the candidate(s) you wish to vote for. The ballot paper tells you how many candidates you may vote for. Don’t vote for more than this number. Please don’t put any other marks on the ballot paper, or your vote may not be counted. If you spoil a ballot paper by mistake, show it to the Presiding Officer and ask for another one.
Fold the ballot paper in two. Show the official mark to the Presiding Officer, but don’t let anyone see your vote. Put the ballot paper in the ballot box and leave the polling station.
If you’ve been granted a postal vote you won’t be allowed to vote at the Polling Station.
If you’ve appointed someone else to vote for you (a proxy), you may vote at an election yourself if you do it before your proxy has voted on your behalf.
Sometimes people worry that the elections are not a secret ballot because a number is printed on the back of the ballot paper and the elector's number is written on a list before the ballot paper is given out. It’s possible that after the election these numbers could be matched to give the identity of the elector.
However, the Returning Officer is required by law to keep the Corresponding Numbers Lists in a separate container to the one containing the counted ballot papers. These containers can only be opened if a court orders it because election malpractice or fraud is suspected.
The ballot is secret and no-one need be concerned that their vote will be traced.
Some people find voting by post easier than going to the Polling Station. You can register to vote by post for a specific election or for all elections.
For more information, see our page about voting by post.
You can nominate someone to vote on your behalf at the Polling Station. They are called a ‘proxy’. If you’d like someone to vote as your proxy, you need to choose a person you trust to go and vote for you.
For more information, see our page about nominating someone to vote for you.