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Voting FAQs

In this section you will find the following information:

Follow the links to find the information you need:

Registering to vote

Register to vote

  • This is a national website where you can register at your new address and give your old address to be removed from.

  • Have your national insurance number handy to register.

There are two registers. Why?

Using information received from the public, registration officers keep two registers – the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register)

The electoral register

The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections.

The register is used for electoral purposes – such as making sure only eligible people can vote - and for other limited purposes specified in law. The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data-protection legislation.

Who uses the electoral register?

  • Election staff, political parties, candidates and holders of elected office use the register for electoral purposes
  • Your local council and the British Library hold copies that anyone may look at under supervision. A copy is also held by the Electoral Commission, the Boundary Commissions (which set constituency boundaries for most elections) and the Office for National Statistics
  • The council can use the register for duties relating to security, enforcing the law and preventing crime. The police and the security services can also use it for law enforcement
  • The register is used when calling people for jury service
  • Government departments may buy the register from local registration offices and use it to help prevent and detect crime. They can also use it to safeguard national security by checking the background of job applications and employees
  • Credit reference agencies can buy the register. They help other organisations to check the names and addresses of people applying for credit. They also use it to carry out identity checks when trying to prevent and detect money laundering. There are deadlines for amendments to the electoral register.  Please contact the office for further information

It is a criminal offence for anyone to supply or use the register for anything else.

The open register

Is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details.  The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data protection legislation.

Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed.  Removing your details from the open register would not affect your right to vote.

Who uses the open register?

Users of the open register include:

  • Businesses checking the identity and address details of people who apply for their services such as insurance, goods hire and property rental, as well as when they shop online
  • Businesses selling age-restricted goods or services, such as alcohol and gambling online, to meet the rules on verifying the age of their customers
  • Charities and voluntary agencies, for example to help maintain contact information for those who have chosen to donate bone marrow and to help people separated by adoption to find each other
  • Charities, to help with fundraising and contacting people who have changed address without telling their creditors;
  • Direct marketing firms when maintaining their mailing lists
  • Landlords and letting agents when checking the identity of potential tenants
  • Local councils when identifying and contacting residents
  • Online directory firms to help users of the website find people, such as when reuniting friends and families
  • Organisations tracing and identifying beneficiaries of wills, pensions and insurance policies
  • Private sector firms to verify details of job applicants

To add or remove yourself from the open register call 01386 565437.

Changes to voter registration

The registration system changed in June 2014. The new system is called "Individual Electoral Registration".  Previously, the "head of household" was responsible for registering everyone who lived at an address, but now every individual is responsible for their own voter registration. The new system means that for the first time people are now able to register online.

How is the new system different?

  • You can now register online at 
  • Everyone is responsible for registering themselves
  • You need to provide a few more details – including your national insurance number and date of birth.  This makes the electoral register more secure

How do I register under the new system?

  • Go to
  • Fill in your name, address, date of birth and a few other details. You will also need your national insurance number, which can be found on your national insurance card, or in official paperwork such as payslips, or letters about benefits or tax credits.
  • Look out for a confirmation to say you are registered.

Registering Anonymously

How do I register anonymously if I am concerned about my name and address appearing on the electoral register because I think it could affect my safety, or the safety of someone in my household?

Register to vote anonymously

If you have any queries regarding this please contact the office (details below).

How do I register if I have no fixed or permanent address?

Register without a fixed or permanent address

Voting in person

Most people in the UK choose to cast their vote in person at a polling station. Voting at a polling station is very straightforward and there is always a member of staff available to help if you're not sure what to do.

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.

On election day, go to your local polling station. Polling station opening hours are 7am - 10pm. When you arrive at the polling station, a member of staff will:

1. Ask you for your name and address so they can find you on the electoral register.

2. Ask you for Photo ID, and check if it is acceptable.

3. If your ID is acceptable, they will give you your ballet paper and direct you to complete it in a polling booth as usual. 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.

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.

A private area is available at the polling station, so you can choose to have your photo ID viewed in private if you like. This might be a separate room, or an area separated by a privacy screen, depending on the polling station.

If you are disabled and need assistance getting to the polling station, contact your electoral registration office to find out what help is available.

Polling Station Maps

Search for your nearest polling station

(We have provided this link to another website solely to try and help you to find information. We are not responsible for the content of other websites, which are not controlled or endorsed by us.)

Voting by post

Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station. This section tells you how voting by post works.

To vote by post, you need to be on the electoral register. Then you need to fill in a postal vote application form.  Applications to apply to vote by post must be returned at least eleven working days before the election date.

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.

Who can apply for a postal vote?

Anyone aged 18 or over who is on the electoral register can apply for a postal vote. You do not need a reason to vote by post.

Where can I get my postal vote sent?

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.

When will I receive my ballot papers?

Postal votes are usually sent out about a week 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.

When you get your postal voting papers:

  • Don't let anyone else handle them
  • Make sure they are not left where someone else can pick them up
  • Complete your ballot paper in secret, on your own
  • Don't let anyone else vote for you
  • Don't let anyone else see your vote
  • Don't give the ballot paper to anyone else
  • Put the ballot paper in the envelope and seal it up yourself
  • Complete and sign the postal voting statement
  • Take it to the post box yourself, if you can
  • If you can't give it to somebody you know and trust to post it for you,
  • Don't hand it to a candidate or party worker
  • Don't leave it where someone else can pick it up
Remember that this is your vote - so keep it to yourself

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, ring your local electoral registration office

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.

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.

To vote by proxy, you'll need to fill in an application form.

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.

  • Can I apply for a proxy vote?

You can apply for a proxy vote as long as you are on the electoral register. When you apply for a proxy vote you have to provide a reason. You can apply for a proxy vote if:

  • 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.

  • When can I apply to vote by proxy?

The deadline for applying to vote by proxy is normally 6 working days before an election. However, if you have a medical emergency 6 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.

  • Who can vote on my behalf?

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.

Can I get electoral forms in large print, audio or a different language?

Either contact the registration officer on 01386 565437, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

How can I contact my local representative?

To find details of your local parish council, district and county councillors and Member of Parliament (MP) visit My Local Area.

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