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Voting in elections and referendums

Registering to Vote

Please remember, in order to vote at a polling station in person, by post or by proxy, you must first be registered to vote. Registering is quick and easy. Please see our webpage Register to vote.

You can vote in person at your designated polling station from 7am to 10pm on an election day. Details of your polling station will appear on the poll card that will be sent out to you a few weeks before the elections.

All voters voting in person at a polling station will be required to produce an accepted form of photographic identification. You can find more details on voter ID.

If you are 18 or over and on the electoral register, you can apply for a postal vote. Postal votes can be for a specific election or in place for a specific time, up to a maximum of three years. You can apply for a postal vote by completing an online or paper application form.

When handing in your postal vote you can post it via royal mail, hand it in to the council offices and hand it into your polling station. If you are going to hand in your postal vote to the council offices or at your polling station, you will need to complete a postal vote return form and hand it to either polling staff, or reception staff when you hand it in. 

Any postal votes posted into a council mail box or handed in without fully completing the Postal Vote Return form will be rejected, this is due to new postal vote handling rules.  For more information on these changes visit Changes to postal voting.


Voting by proxy means you can appoint someone you trust to vote on your behalf if you are unable to get to the polling station, for example if you are working away, on holiday abroad, or fall ill. You can apply for a proxy for a specific election by vote by completing an online or paper application form.

If you are unable to attend the polling station for the foreseeable future or for a long period of time, you can put in place a proxy arrangement on a long-term basis. Examples would be due to disability or are resident outside of the UK for work or on an educational course. You cannot currently use the online service for this type of application. Please contact [email protected] or telephone 0300 126 7000 and we will send you the correct form to complete.

Currently, British citizens living outside of the UK may register as an overseas elector and vote at UK Parliamentary elections for a maximum of 15 years from the date last registered in the UK. The registration period currently lasts one year and must be renewed annually.

Incoming changes during 2024

The Elections Act (2022) will remove the 15-year limit, allowing British citizens votes for life. Additionally, the annual renewal will increase to a three yearly renewal. The UK government anticipates that applications will be accepted during early 2024. We will update this information accordingly and provide links to the application webpage. Please do not apply at this stage (if you have exceeded the 15-year timeframe), applications cannot currently be accepted.

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU), EU citizens will no longer be automatically entitled to register, vote and stand for election. However, two groups of EU citizens will retain their rights:

Group 1

‘Qualified EU citizens’ - Where a reciprocal agreement with an EU country is in place and the individual has leave, or do not require it, to remain in the UK. Currently, this is limited to Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

Group 2

‘EU citizens with retained rights’ who were resident in the UK before 1 January 2021.

During 2024, we will begin to contact EU residents on the current register to explain the review of the register and on any action, they may need to take.

We are committed to ensuring that electoral system is both secure and accessible to all electors. One of our key objectives is to maintain the capacity for all electors to vote independently and using their chosen method of voting.

What to expect when you arrive at your polling station

All polling stations will be clearly signed outside and inside the building. There may be additional directional signage inside the polling station to guide you to the room in use. All our polling stations are accessible. Some stations may have temporary ramps to assist voters with entering and leaving the building. If there are car parking facilities, we will work with owners of the building to provide disabled parking close to the entrance/exit of the polling station.

When you arrive at your polling station, you will be greeted by a member of the stations staff. They will be wearing a badge that identifies their role in the station. A member of staff will ask you for your:

  • full name
  • address
  • photographic ID

Remember, you now need to bring photo ID with you to a polling station to vote in person. To see the acceptable list of documents you can use or for more information on what to do if you don’t have acceptable photo ID.

Extra support request form

We have created a simple form that can be printed off, completed by yourself or a helper. The form can then be handed to a member of staff who will quickly identify what additional support or assistance you require.

If you are unable to download and print this form, please contact us and we will post a copy to your home address. Our contact details are at the bottom of this section.

Additional equipment/facilities at Polling Stations

  • Polling booths have a dedicated space with a low-level table and is wheelchair accessible
  • Polling booths will be placed under well-lit lighting. If you require additional lighting, please ask a member of staff
  • Pencils with pencil grips including chunkier style pencils are available. You can also bring your own pencil/pen if you prefer
  • Magnifiers to increase the size of the text on the ballot paper
  • Tactile devices are available to assist electors in marking their ballot paper
  • A large print copy of the ballot paper is available to use as a reference
  • You may use your own specialist device, mobile phone or app in the polling station to assist you. For example, speech apps, video magnifiers, translation apps
  • How to vote at this election signage will be available in the station. Signage will use easy to read, large print and be accompanied by a pictorial guide
  • Additional seating will be available for anyone who is unable to stand for periods of time.

Assistance with voting

  • Anyone who has a disability can be accompanied by a companion at the polling station. The companion must be aged 18 or over and can assist you at all stages of the voting process. The companion will need to sign a simple declaration that they are assisting you at the polling station
  • You may request polling station staff at your station to assist you. Assistance may take the form of guiding you through the station, to the polling booth, ballot box and to the exit of the polling place. Additionally, and following your instructions, the Presiding Officer can mark your ballot paper for you. The Presiding Officer will then complete a form to declare they have marked your ballot paper and assisted you in voting
  • You may bring into the polling station an assistance animal

Voters using British Sign Language

The videos produced here are for the Local Elections that took place in May 2023 in some areas of England. However, the information contained within the video is still current and applies to future elections.

Audible ballot papers

Audible ballot papers will be made available on our website for all elections and referendums. You can use the screen reader of your choice prior to polling day or via your own device in the station.

Voters with learning disabilities and/or autism

Voters with learning disabilities and/or autism should not feel excluded from registering and expressing your individual rights within the democratic process. Mencap and the Electoral Commission have worked closely together, producing a range of accessible easy read guides. The guides cover registration, voting, voter ID and why voting is important.

If you would like to read more and download the guides, please visit the Mencap website.

Languages – Translated guidance

We have produced translated guidance on Electoral Registration and Voter ID in the following languages:

Further translations will be available shortly

Power of Attorney

A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that allows an individual to appoint someone to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney does not extend to the electoral process.

An attorney has no powers to vote on behalf of another person unless they have been appointed as their proxy on an application signed by the individual. A Power of Attorney cannot sign postal vote or proxy applications on your behalf. Nor can they sign the postal vote statement that accompanies your ballot paper if you already have a postal vote arrangement.

Last updated 28 March 2024