By Ailsa Irvine, Director of Electoral Administration and Guidance
Part of our job here at the Electoral Commission is helping people to understand how to register and cast their vote at an election. Registering is easy and there are a number of ways you can vote in the upcoming poll.
Here are ten points that can help voters understand the options available to them at the 2019 General Election:
Who can vote in a UK general election?
You can vote in a UK general election if you are 18 years old or over, and:
- A UK or Irish citizen
- A qualifying Commonwealth citizen living in the UK
You need to be on the electoral register before you’ll be able to vote.
Does it take long to register?
Registering to vote is quick and easy, and you can do it online. It only takes five minutes, and all you need is your address, date of birth and national insurance number.
Register to vote here. The deadline to register to vote for the general election is 26 November.
How do I check if I am registered to vote?
To check if you are registered to vote, you will need to contact the electoral registration team for your local authority. You can find the contact details for your local authority here by simply entering your postcode.
In Northern Ireland, you can contact the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland.
How can I cast my vote in a general election?
If you are registered to vote, you can cast your vote at your local polling station on 12 December (between 7am and 10pm). You will be sent a poll card in advance of polling day telling you where your local polling station is. Alternatively, you could apply for a postal or proxy vote.
What are the rules and deadlines for applying for a postal vote?
Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station. You can find more information on postal voting here.
Anyone in England, Scotland and Wales can apply for a postal vote. You don’t need to provide a reason, unless you are voting in Northern Ireland.
You can find the form to register for a postal vote in Great Britain here.
Once you have completed the form and made sure you have signed it, you need to send it to the electoral registration team for your local council. You can find their contact details here by entering your postcode.
You can send your form by post. The electoral registration team at your local council should also be able to accept a scanned copy of your form by email, but it’s worth double-checking with them first. Details for applying in Northern Ireland can be found here.
The deadline for applying for a postal vote is 5pm on 26 November in Great Britain, and 5pm on 21 November in Northern Ireland.
What are the rules and deadlines for applying for a proxy vote?
Proxy voting means that if you aren't able to cast your vote in person, you can appoint someone you trust to cast your vote for you. They must go to your polling station to cast your vote, or they could apply to vote on your behalf by post.
To apply for a proxy vote, you have to complete a form and give a reason why you can't get to your polling station in person. This may be because you're going to be on holiday, or have a physical condition which means you can't get to your polling station on polling day. Find more information and download the form for a proxy vote here.
Anyone can be your proxy as long as they are eligible to vote in the election and they are willing to vote on your behalf. Your proxy cannot be a proxy for more than two people at any one election, unless they are a close relative.
The rules and forms for are applying in Northern Ireland are slightly different and can be found here.
Once you have completed the form, you need to send it to the electoral registration team for your local council. You can find their contact details here by entering your postcode.
You can send your form by post. The electoral registration team at your local council should also be able to accept a scanned copy of your form by email, but it’s worth double-checking with them first.
The deadline for applying for a proxy vote is 5pm on 4 December in Great Britain, and 5pm on 21 November in Northern Ireland.
The deadline for postal proxy applications is 5pm on 26 November in Great Britain
Can voters, such as students, be registered at more than one address?
It is possible in certain circumstances for someone to be lawfully registered to vote at more than one address. This could include, for example, students who have different home and term time addresses. The Electoral Registration Officer at your local council must be satisfied that you are resident at an address before confirming your registration there.
However, it is an offence to cast more than one vote on your own behalf in a UK Parliamentary general election. This offence carries a penalty of an unlimited fine in England and Wales, or a fine of up to £5,000 in Scotland.
What if I am moving house?
When you move house you need to re-register at your new address. If your move date is between the registration deadline and polling day, you will still be able to vote at your old address. If you are unable to return, you can apply to vote by post and have your postal vote sent to your new address, or you can apply to vote by proxy.
What if I live overseas?
If you are a UK citizen living abroad, you can apply to be an overseas voter.
You must have been living in the UK within the last 15 years and have been registered to vote before you left the UK.
If you were too young to be registered when you left the UK, you can still register as an overseas voter. You can do this if you last lived in the UK within the last 15 years and your parent or guardian was registered to vote in the UK.
If you were previously resident in Great Britain, you can register to vote online.
What if I have no fixed address?
You can still register to vote even if you do not have a fixed address. There are a number of options depending on your circumstances. Find out more here.
Notes to editors
Notes to editors
For more information contact the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704, out of office hours 07789 920 414 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:
- enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
- regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
- using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy,
- aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency
The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.
- Electoral administrator
- Political party
- UK Parliamentary general election
- UK wide