How to vote
Apply to vote by post
Your vote matters - apply for postal voting to make sure you can vote at the next election.
You must be registered to vote and your application to vote by post must be submitted by 5pm on 20 April 2021.
On this page...
Voting in person
If you are on the electoral register, you will receive a poll card before the election telling you where and when to vote. The polling station is often a school or local hall near where you live. The poll card is for your information only, and you do not need to take it to the polling station in order to vote.
The following five steps explain how to vote at your polling station on election day:
- On election day, go to your local polling station. Polling station opening hours are 7am to 10pm. If you are disabled and need assistance getting to the polling station, contact us to find out what help is available. You can also ask to have a companion with you when you vote, or staff in the polling station may be able to help you
- Tell the staff inside the polling station your name and address so they can check that you are on the electoral register. You can show them your poll card, but you do not need it to vote
- The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper listing the parties and candidates you can vote for. It will be stamped with an official mark. You may be given more than one ballot paper if there is more than one election on the same day. If you have a visual impairment, you can ask for a special voting device that allows you to vote on your own in secret
- Take your ballot paper into a polling booth so that no one can see how you vote. Read the ballot paper carefully, it will tell you how to cast your vote. Do not write anything else on the paper or your vote may not be counted
- Finally, when you have marked your vote, fold the ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box. Do not let anyone see your vote. If you are not clear on what to do, ask the staff at the polling station to help you
Voting by post
Anyone aged 18 or over who is on the electoral register can apply for a postal vote - you don't need to give a reason.
You can vote by post if you live in the UK or if you're voting when abroad.
Apply for a postal vote
You can apply for a postal vote:
- for a single election on a specific date
- for a specific period
We must collect ‘personal identifiers’ from all postal voters. These identifiers (signature and date of birth) are used to check postal votes cast at election time, in an attempt to prevent and detect electoral fraud and to protect your vote.
See our privacy notice that guarantees we’ll protect your data.
You can scan or photograph the completed form and email a copy to [email protected].
Alternatively you can post the form to:
Luton, LU1 2BQ
Completing and returning your postal vote
When voting by post, you should:
- complete your ballot paper in secret
- complete the postal voting statement
- put the ballot and statement in the envelopes provided
- seal the envelope yourself
Post your ballot back as quickly as possible to make sure it's counted.
If you're too late to post your ballot paper back, you can hand it in to your local Electoral Registration Office or bring it to your local polling station by 10pm on polling day.
Remember that this is your vote - so keep it to yourself
Contact us if you spoil or lose your ballot paper. You can get a replacement up to 5pm on election If anyone tries to help you against your will, or force you to give them your postal vote, you should contact the police. If you have any other queries, call us on 01582 546000.
Postal voting questions and answers
A postal vote can be sent to your home address or to any other address that you give. Postal votes can be sent overseas, but you need to consider whether there will be enough time to receive and return your ballot paper by election day.
Postal votes are usually sent out about two weeks before election day. Once you’ve got it, mark your vote on the ballot paper and make sure you send it back so that it arrives by close of poll (which is 10pm on election day). If it arrives later than this your vote won’t be counted.
Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to your polling station on the day of an election. But remember, your postal vote is for you, and nobody else.
- Put your postal voting papers somewhere safe
- Don't let anyone else handle them
- Make sure they’re not left where someone else can pick them up
- Take it to a post box yourself, if you can
- If you can't do that, either give it to somebody you know and trust to post it for you, or ring your local electoral registration office, to ask if they can collect it from you
- Don't hand it to a candidate or party worker unless no other way is practical
- Don't leave it where someone else can pick it up
Contact us if you spoil or lose your ballot paper. You can get a replacement up to 5pm on election day.
If you spoiled your ballot paper, bring:
- the spoiled paper
- the rest of the ballot pack that was sent to you
You'll need to change where your postal vote is sent if you:
- move house
- will be away from home in the run up to election day (e.g. on holiday)
Either way, just make a new postal vote application.
Voting by proxy
Voting by proxy is a convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station. By proxy just means that you appoint someone you trust to vote on your behalf. This section tells you how voting by proxy works.
Voting by proxy can be useful if you fall ill and are unable to get to the polling station on election day, or if you are abroad during an election. It can be particularly useful if you are overseas in a country too far away to send back a postal vote in time for the election (for instance, if you are in the armed forces and deployed overseas).
To vote by proxy, you’ll need to fill in an application form. You can apply to vote by proxy now - using a form from the Your Vote Matters website. You’ll need to print the form and complete it, then sign it and send it back to us.
You need to sign your application form personally because the electoral registration office needs a copy of your signature for voting security reasons. We know it’s slightly less convenient than submitting it online, but it helps to ensure the security of your vote and is used to tackle electoral fraud.
- you are unable to go to the polling station for one particular election, for example, if you are away on holiday
- you have a physical condition that means you cannot go to the polling station on election day
- your employment means that you cannot go to the polling station on election day
- your attendance on an educational course means that you cannot go to the polling station on election day
- you are a British citizen living overseas
- you are a crown servant or a member of Her Majesty's armed forces
Except if you are registered blind, you may have to get someone to support your application to confirm that your reason for applying to vote by proxy is valid. Read the notes that accompany the application form to find out if you need to get someone to support your application and who can do it.
The deadline for applying to vote by proxy is normally six working days before an election. However, if you have a medical emergency six days before election day or after, you can apply to vote by emergency proxy if the emergency means that you cannot go to the polling station in person.
Anyone can be your proxy as long as they are eligible to vote in that type of election and they are willing to vote on your behalf.
You cannot be a proxy for more than two people at any one election, unless they are a close relative.