Voting (In England)

Voting gives you a voice. 

It gives you the power to influence how the country or local area is run and a means of speaking out about how well you feel we are being governed, as well as the means to support a party that represents your views. Elections provide some of the biggest opportunities you will get to have your say. People aged 18 or over can vote, so you might be eligible if you're in Year 13 - depending on your birthday.

Turnout of voters aged 18-24 in the 2019 General Election was only 47%, compared to 74% of over-65s.  Why not have your say?  

Are you registered to vote?

If you’re registered to vote, you’ll be on the electoral register, that your local council holds. They’ll be able to tell you if you’re registered, so if you don't know, contact the electoral services team at your local council.

If you're already registered, you don’t need to register to vote before every election, but if you move house, you should register to vote again with your updated address details.

If you change your name for any reason, you can either:

  • contact the electoral services team at your local council and request a change of name form
  • ...or register to vote again

Registering to vote only takes around five minutes if you do it online. It’s the same whether you plan to vote in person at a polling station, by post, or through a proxy voter. If you can’t register online, you can download a paper form.

Elections have deadlines that dictate when you must be registered by, in order to take part in the vote.  This deadline will always before before an election so check the news and ensure you know the registration and polling day dates.

Did you know? 'Polling Day' is the day votes are cast.

To register > Fill out the form on the website   - you'll need your National Insurance number or another form of ID, plus your current address details. You can also register by sending a form to your local electoral office.

General Elections

General Elections provide the opportunity for people in every part of the UK to choose their MP (Member of Parliament). This person represents a local area (constituency) in the House of Commons for up to five years. There's a choice of candidates in each constituency and some will be the local candidates for national political parties. The candidate that receives most votes becomes the MP for the area.

The maximum term of a Parliament is five years from the day on which it first met, so there's a general election every five years.

Did you know? You don't vote for a new Prime Minister, you just vote to elect your local MP. The political party that wins the most seats (MPs) in the House of Commons at a general election usually forms the new government and its leader becomes Prime Minister.

To vote in a UK general election, you must be registered to vote and:

  • be 18 years of age or over on polling day (You can still register to vote if you are not yet 18, providing you are over 16 and will be 18 or over on polling day)
  • be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen
  • be resident at an address in the UK (or a UK citizen living abroad who has previously been registered to vote in the UK or has lived in the UK)
  • not be legally excluded from voting
  • Voters in England need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations

If you don't have an accepted photo ID, you can apply for a free voter ID document, which is known as a Voter Authority Certificate. The deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate to vote in Parliamentary general elections maybe different from the 'vote in person' registration date, so look at the gov website online and the news.

Students - you can be registered at both your home and term-time addresses, but you can only vote in one place. (Voting more than once in a general election is a criminal offence!)

Voting by post or getting someone to vote for you

Post and Proxy

If you know that you won't be able to get to a polling station on polling day, you can register for a proxy vote or a postal vote. But you still need to register to vote first. 

  • If you want to vote by post, you must submit an application online - the deadline for this maybe different, so check. 
  • If you’d like to vote by proxy, you have to be registered for a proxy vote and the person who is voting for you must also be registered to vote as well.  The deadline for registering for a proxy vote may also be different.  

Full details are on the website.

Voter ID

Voters in England now need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations in some elections, including:

  • UK parliamentary elections, including general elections, by-elections and recall petitions
  • Local elections and by-elections
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections

Find out more on the Electoral Commission website and make sure that you take your ID to cast your vote, when this is required. 

Other elections

Other types of voting include local government elections, police and crime commissioner elections and referendums.

Local government elections take place at least every 4 years, but not all local government elections take place at the same time.

Your local government will do one of the following:

  • elect all the local councillors every 4 years
  • elect half the local councillors every 2 years
  • elect one third of the local councillors every year for 3 years and hold no elections in the 4th year

Did you know? A councillor’s primary role is to represent their ward or division and the people who live in it. Councillors provide a bridge between the community and the council advocating for local residents.  Local councillors are often affiliated with or members of political parties, but they are not MPs.

  • There are 41 Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales who are elected to make sure the police are run properly. 
  • A referendum is a vote on a single issue. You usually make one choice between 2 options. A local referendum can be held by a local council to make a decision on an issue affecting their area or it could be a national referendum, like the Brexit referendum in 2016

Rules for registration, timings and ID requirements may be slightly different for different elections, so check The Electoral Commission website for details and information about elections and casting votes in your area.

Remember: You hold the right to vote or not, and you're not obliged to tell anyone on how you vote and who you voted for.  The important thing is to be aware of your right to vote, and to have the correct registration and ID required to cast a vote, if you intend to do so.

My Page