Voting in the Scotland by-elections

Overview

There are local council by-elections taking place in Scotland in autumn and winter 2020.

These are the first elections to take place in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can still choose to vote in person, or you can vote by post or by proxy if you can’t or don’t want to go to the polling place.

If it’s close to the by-election and you need to apply for an emergency proxy for reasons related to COVID-19, there is a new form to help you do this.

Voting in person

You can vote in person at a polling place in the council by-elections in Scotland.

Polling places will be open from 7am to 10pm. If there’s a queue, you’ll still be able vote as long as you joined it before 10pm.

Due to COVID-19, there will be safety measures in place at polling places, to help you stay safe.

There will be physical distancing and there may be a limit on how many people are allowed inside the polling place. 

When you go inside, you will be expected to wear a face covering like you do when you go into shops or on public transport. 

You should sanitise your hands when you go into the polling place and when you leave. Hand sanitiser will be available on entry and exit.

The polling place staff will be behind protective screens, like staff in shops, but you’ll still be able to ask them for help if you need it. 

Polling place staff will be cleaning regularly, so you might need to wait for a booth to be cleaned before you can use it.

You’re welcome to take your own pencil or pen with you if you’d like to. Clean pencils will be available for each voter.

Where possible, polling places will have a one-way system, so be prepared to follow the signage and any instructions.

Planning ahead for polling day

You may want to plan ahead for how to vote on polling day. Check your poll card as your polling place may have changed since the last election.

Polling places are usually busier early in the morning and after school, so you may want to go at a different time when it’s likely to be quieter.

Voting by post

To vote by post, you need to complete a postal vote application form. The process for applying for a postal vote hasn’t changed.

You will need to download the form, print it, fill it in, then send it to the Electoral Registration Office for your area.

Once you have completed the form and made sure you have signed it, you need to send it to the Electoral Registration Office for your area.

The Electoral Registration Office must receive your application before the deadline. This will be at 5pm 11 working days before polling day.

Voting by proxy (someone voting on your behalf)

To vote by proxy, when you ask someone you trust to vote on your behalf, you need to complete a proxy vote application form. The process for applying for a proxy vote hasn’t changed.

You can choose to vote by proxy for just one election, or have a permanent or long-term proxy vote.

Download the proxy vote application form for just one election:

Find out about a permanent or long-term proxy vote

You will need to download the form, print it, fill it in, then send it to the Electoral Registration Office for your area.

Once you have completed the form and made sure you have signed it, you need to send it to the Electoral Registration Office for your area.

The Electoral Registration Office must receive your application before the deadline. This will be at 5pm six working days before polling day.

Emergency proxy vote

In certain circumstances, where you have an emergency that means you can't vote in person, you can apply for an emergency proxy.

This must be something that you weren't aware of before the normal proxy vote deadline.

The form you need to complete depends on your reason for needing an emergency proxy vote.

Download a form if you are self-isolating and unable to vote in person at your polling station as a result of government or medical practitioner advice which was received after 5pm, on the sixth working day before the poll.

You can still download a form if:

You can apply for an emergency proxy until 5pm on polling day.

How to find if you already have a postal or proxy vote

If you're not sure if you have a postal vote or a proxy vote already, contact the Electoral Registration Office to find out.

More information about COVID-19

For more information about COVID-19, you can look at NHS Inform.

Last updated: 28 September 2020
Next review: 15 September 2021