Whilst the usual way to vote is to attend a polling station, if you are unable to do this, there are other options available to you.
The traditional way of voting in the United Kingdom is to attend a local Polling Station and vote in person. Each registered voter is allocated a specific polling station in the area in which they live. A poll card is sent to each elector giving the location of the Polling Station.
On the day of the election:
- you do not have to take the Poll Card with you to be able to vote
- for Local, Parliamentary and European Elections, the hours within which you are able to cast your vote are 7.00am to 10.00pm
- on arrival at your designated Polling Station, the Presiding Officer will ask you to confirm your name and address and will issue you with a ballot paper
- you take the ballot paper to a voting booth and mark with an "X" the candidate(s) you wish to vote for,
- then fold the ballot paper and deposit it in the ballot box.
In England and Wales you can choose to vote by post if you cannot, or do not wish to, attend the Polling Station. You can now have a postal vote at anytime whether permanently or for a specific election. You do not have to give a reason for asking for a Postal Vote.
Postal Voting facts:
- applications can be made for a single election, for a specified period or indefinitely
- a Postal Vote can be sent to your home address or any other address
- they can be sent overseas, but you must consider time factors: will it reach you in time and are you able to return it by Polling Day
- if you have a Postal Vote you cannot vote in person at the Polling Station
- you can post your Postal Vote to the Council Offices, in person or at the Polling Station
- your Postal Vote has to be received by close of Poll on Polling Day
There is only one application form to apply for a Postal Vote. Please note that there is now a requirement to provide a specimen signature and a date of birth on all completed application forms. The collection of these personal identifiers is designed to deter misuse of the entitlement to vote and to help ensure that the postal votes included in the count have been completed by the persons to whom they are issued. Failure to provide this information will mean that the application will not be valid.
If a postal vote is not convenient you may wish to apply for a proxy vote.
This is where you appoint someone to go to your Polling Station on Election Day and cast your vote on your behalf.
If you change your mind and wish to vote in person you can do so, providing your has appointed person has not done so already. If your proxy cannot attend the Polling Station, they can apply to vote by post you will not be able to vote in person.
All applications should be completed and returned to the Elections Officer at The Copeland Centre, Catherine Street, Whitehaven, Cumbria, CA28 7SJ by no later than 6 working days before an election.
Recent changes to the legislation have included another type of application for a proxy vote on the grounds of a medical emergency. Anyone who has become ill or incapacitated after 6 working days before an election can apply for a proxy vote until 5 p.m. on the day of the election. There will be an application form to complete, which will need to be attested.