Everything you need to know about voting in the UK…
Whether you’ll soon be voting for the very first time or want to know more about the process, we’ve got you covered. The age you can vote at is slightly different in parts of the UK, so we’ll start with that…
What Age Do I Have To Be To Vote?
- In Scotland and Wales: 16 years old to vote in Scottish/Welsh Parliament and local elections (and other elections, such as a general election, when you’re 18)
- In England and Northern Ireland: 18
Register To Vote
Before you can vote, you must be on the electoral register. You can actually register to vote before you’re allowed to legally vote for the first time – in England and Norther Ireland you can register from age 16 and in Scotland and Wales you can register from age 14.
You must be:
- A British Citizen
- An Irish or EU citizen living in the UK
- A Commonwealth citizen who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission
- A citizen of another country living in Scotland or Wales who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission
You only need to register once, not every time there’s an election, but you would have to register again if you moved address or changed your name or nationality. However, if you’re in Northern Ireland, there are some changes being made from July 1, 2021, meaning that if you have registered previous to this you will have to re-register.
You can click here to register to vote. https://www.registertovote.service.gov.uk/register-to-vote/country-of-residence You can also use this link to change any of your details, such as your name, address and nationality or to remove yourself from the electoral register.
Need a paper form? You can use one in England, Wales and Scotland. Click here. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-to-vote-if-youre-living-in-the-uk
Ways To Vote
You’ve probably seen queues of people lining up to vote on election day at your local polling station, but did you know that there are more ways to vote than in person? You can:
- Vote In Person
Pop down to your local polling station to cast your vote. These are usually held in public buildings such as schools or local halls. Not sure where your local polling station is? It’ll be written on the polling card which will be sent to you just before casting your vote. You can also find your local polling station here. https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/your-election-information
Lost your polling card? Don’t worry – you can still vote. Just give your name and address to the staff inside the polling address on your arrival.
- Vote By Post
This option has been especially popular during the pandemic. To do a postal vote, you must apply online. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote
You can apply if:
- You’re going to be away from home on election day
- You’re abroad and want to vote in England, Scotland or Wales
- Vote By Proxy
This is when you apply to have someone else cast your vote on your behalf. You can only apply for a vote by proxy if:
- You’ll be away on polling day
- You have a medical issue or disability
- Can’t vote in person due to work or military service
Will I Need ID?
You do not need ID if you live in Scotland, Wales or England. However, you do need to show photo ID (driving license etc.) in Northern Ireland. There are plans by the UK government to introduce photo ID across Great Britain and at local elections in England in the future but ID is not required at the moment.
What To Expect When Voting
Voting for the first time is exciting. It’s your chance to make your voice heard and to make a difference to how this country is run. Every vote counts.
You will be asked for your name and address on arriving at the polling station. The staff will hand you your ballot paper which will list the individuals and parties you can vote for. Take as much time as you need to look over these options. The staff will then direct you to a booth where you can cast your vote in private. You will be given a pen or pencil to make a cross in the box of your chosen candidate. Once you’ve marked your paper, you will be shown to a secured ballot box and asked to post your vote into it. And that’s it! It’s very quick, simple, and there are lots of staff on hand to help you, should you have any questions.
Need more information about voting? Click here. https://www.gov.uk/how-to-vote