General Election – How do I vote?

The last general election was on Thursday 12th December 2019. The British public has since been turned upside down by quarantines, self-isolations, and the wars in Gaza and Ukraine are now making headlines daily.

Meanwhile, most of us were still grappling with pre-pubescent pimples and had to flash our IDs just to buy scissors at their local Tesco’s.

What seems like an age of discontent since this last election our political unrest has grown louder and louder, but don’t shout at us for thinking, how the hell do we vote? What about those of us who are out of the country? Or moving right before the election?

So what you need to do is:

  1. Check if you can vote.
  2. Register to vote.
  3. Decide if you want to vote in person, by post, or someone by proxy (someone placing your vote for you).
  4. Get ready to vote in person, by post, or by proxy.
  5. Vote in person, by post, or by proxy.
  6. Eagerly wait for the results.

This can sound like a lot of admin, especially amidst the hustle and bustle of securing that first job, navigating university life, or taking our first steps on the career ladder. But having a say in the political stance of the country is something we have a right to, and something worth investing time in.

1. Checking if you can vote.

To vote you must be:

  • Be 18 or over on the day of the general election (polling day).
  • Be a British, Irish, or qualifying Commonwealth citizen.
  • Be a resident at an address in the UK or living abroad and registered as an overseas voter.
  • Not be legally excluded from voting.

2. Register to vote.

If you can vote you can register to vote online here, or register to vote by paper here

Likewise, if you have changed name, address or nationality you will need to re-register.

3. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

If you will be in your constituency, then you can vote in person. Alternatively if you are unable to make it to a polling station on the day of the general election, you can vote by post. For voters that won’t be in the country, you can vote via someone else, which is called voting by proxy.

4. Get ready to vote.

Once you have decided how you are voting, you need to prepare and make sure your Local Electoral Registration Office knows this.

  • At a polling station: You’ll be sent a poll card just before an election which will tell you where to vote and when. Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm and you will need your name, address and photo ID. Don’t worry if you lose your poll card as you won’t need this but contact your Local Electoral Registration Office if you haven’t received one.
  • By post: You must apply to vote no later than 5pm, 11 days before the election. But you will need to have already registered to vote, as well as the address where you are registered. Additionally, you will need your National Insurance Number and the specific date of the election. Apply to vote by post here.
  • By proxy: You can apply to vote by proxy by 5pm at least 6 working days before the polling day. For this way you will need your proxy’s permission, contact details and their address, as well as your National Insurance Number and a photo of your handwritten signature. Apply to vote by proxy here.

5. Vote!

  • In person: Give your name and address to the polling station staff when they arrive, as well as your photo ID. You will be given a ballot paper containing a list of the candidates for your constituency.
  • By post: Mark your vote in the ballot paper sent to you, fill in the postal voting statement, seal the envelope yourself and send it.
  • By proxy: Your proxy must be registered to vote and able to vote in the same constituency as you, they can only be a proxy for up to two people, and can vote by proxy in person or by post.

6. Sit and wait!

Counting the vote can take at least six weeks.

Read more here

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