How to vote

Last Updated: 12 October 2022

To vote at an election your name must be on the Register of Electors

Shortly before an election, we will send you a poll card which will tell you:

  • the date of the election
  • your elector number
  • whether our records have you as voting in person or a postal voter
  • the address of your polling station and polling hours, if you vote in person

You don't need to bring your poll card with you to vote, but it may make it easier for polling station staff to find you on the register if you do.

How to vote in person

  1. The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper listing the candidate or candidates you can vote for. You may be given more than one ballot paper if there is more than one election taking place in your area.
  2. Take your ballot paper into a polling booth so that no-one can see how you vote. Read your ballot paper carefully, it will tell you how to cast your vote. Don't write anything else on the paper or your vote may not be counted.
  3. Mark your ballot paper with an 'X' against the candidate (or candidates) you wish to vote for. A pencil will be provided for you to do this, but you can use your own pen if you prefer.
  4. If you make a mistake on your ballot paper, don't worry. As long as you haven't put it in the ballot box, the polling station staff can give you a replacement ballot paper.
  5. Fold your completed ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box.

If you need assistance at the polling station

If you need any advice, just ask the polling station staff, they'll be happy to help you.

If you have a disability, you can ask for help and the Presiding Officer (one of the polling station staff) can mark the ballot paper for you. You can also ask someone else to help you, for example, a support worker. They must either be registered to vote in the election themselves, or if they aren't registered for the election, one of your relatives. They must not help more than one person to vote in any one election.

If you have a visual impairment, you can ask to see a large print ballot paper or ask for a special voting device that lets you vote in secret.

How to vote if you can't get to the polling station

If you can't attend your polling station on election day, you can apply to vote in one of the following ways:

  • by post, this is where your ballot papers are sent to you by post before the polling day
  • by proxy, this is where you have someone you trust (a friend or relative perhaps) cast your vote on your behalf. They can do this by visiting your polling station or they apply to cast your vote by post 

How to vote by post

1. When you get your postal voting papers

  • put them somewhere safe
  • don't let anyone else handle them
  • make sure that they are not left where someone else can pick them up

2. When you want to vote

  • 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 yourself
  • complete and sign the postal voting statement
  • put the postal voting statement and the envelope containing your ballot paper into the larger envelope and seal it

3. When to return your vote

  • your postal vote must reach us by 10pm on polling day
  • you can return it by post, or on election day, by handing it in at South Lakeland House (between 9am and 5pm) or your local polling station (between 7am and 10pm)
  • take it to the post box or hand it in yourself, if possible
  • if you can't do that, give it to someone you know and trust to post or hand in
  • 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

How to vote by proxy

You must go to the polling station of the person who appointed you as their proxy. We will send you a proxy poll card by post, which will tell you where and when to cast their vote for them.

If you can't go to their polling station, you can cast their vote for them by post.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote is earlier than the deadline to apply to vote by proxy. The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm eleven working days before the poll and the deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 5pm six working days before the poll. If you haven't arranged a postal vote before the deadline you must visit their polling station. 

If the person who appointed you as their proxy changes their mind, or finds they can go to their polling station after all, they will still be able to vote themselves, provided you haven't already cast their vote or applied to vote for them by post.