How do I vote at a polling station?
- The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper listing the 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 local area on the same day.
- 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.
- Mark your ballot paper according to the instructions. A pencil will be provided for you to do this, but you may use your own pen if you prefer.
- If you make a mistake on your ballot paper, don't worry – as long as you haven't already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can give you a replacement ballot paper.
- Fold your completed ballot paper in half, then pop it in the ballot box – and that's it done!
Bring photo ID in Northern Ireland
If you are voting in Northern Ireland, don't forget to bring a correct form of photo ID when you go to your polling station on election day. Without it you won't be able to vote.
The following forms of ID can be accepted at the polling station in Northern Ireland:
- a UK or Irish passport
- a UK, Irish or EEA driving licence
- a Translink Senior Smartpass
- a Translink 60+ Smartpass
- a Translink War Disabled Smartpass
- a Translink Blind Person's Smartpass
- an Electoral Identity Card
The identification does not need to be 'current', but the presiding officer at the polling station must be satisfied that the photograph matches that of the person intending to vote.
No other form of photo ID can be accepted at the polling station. This includes ID such as work passes or parking blue badges.
Find out more about applying for an electoral ID card or call 0800 4320 712.
Tellers at polling stations
On election day volunteers for candidates, called tellers, wait outside polling stations and ask voters for the number on their polling card. They use this information to check who's voted so they can remind those who haven't to do so.
They are not acting in any official capacity so you don't need to give them any information if you don't want to.
If you are concerned about the conduct of a teller, speak to the presiding officer at the polling station.
Photos taken outside the polling station are great to use on social media and encourage your friends and family to vote, but don’t take any photos inside the polling station as you might find yourself in breach of secrecy of the ballot requirements.
Accessibility at the polling station
If you need any advice, just ask the staff at the polling station – they will be happy to help you.
If you are disabled, you can ask for help and the Presiding Officer can mark the ballot paper for you. You can also ask someone else to help you (for example, a support worker, as long as they are either a relative or an eligible elector and have not already helped more than one other person vote).
If you have a visual impairment, you can ask to see a large print ballot paper, or you can ask for a special voting device that allows you to vote on your own in secret.
If you need help getting to the polling station, contact your local authority to find out what help is available. You can also ask to have a companion with you when you vote.
Making voting easier for people with learning disabilities
Harry and Charlotte, who work for Mencap and have a learning disability, have shared their own experiences of voting in a polling station.
To help make voting easier for people with learning disabilities, they suggest:
- polling stations have posters with pictures on how to vote
- polling station staff could wear badges to show that they are there to help people with learning disability vote