How to Vote / Vote NONE:  4 steps

If you haven't voted in a UK General Election before, here are the 4 simple steps.  (To vote NONE, see step 4.)

1.  Register to vote

You need to be on the electoral register.  It takes a few minutes online here:  www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Since 2009 we all have to register individually.  (If you have moved since 2013, changed your name, or are away at college or uni­versity, you need to re-register.)

The website, can be used (i) to register or (ii) to update your details.  If you have a National Insurance number, you'll need it.  (Tip: to avoid receiving ads in the post, tick 'No' to being on the Open Register.)  At the end you see a summary of your answers to confirm.

Do it now, ready for the next election or by-election.

2.  If you want to vote by post…

You can choose to vote by post or in person.

Voting in person is interesting as you see the whole process and take part in it.  But if you might be away on election day, or busy, apply now for a Postal Vote.

The online registration (above) includes the postal vote option.  You can also download the application form here:  www.gov.uk/…/apply-for-a-postal-vote

Deadline:  You need to sign and send the application form by post early enough for it to arrive approx­imately two weeks before election day.  Enter your postcode here to find the address: www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/…/postal-vote-application

3.  Receive your Poll card.

Near an election, all registered voters receive a Poll card in the post.  It shows the Polling Station where you will vote.  (Often they are schools that have suspended teaching for the day.)

If you lose the card, you can still vote.  Just remember where to go, or ask a neighbour.

Think about whether you can help other people to get to the polling station, who may be busy with work and family, disabled, elderly or have no transport.

4. How to Vote

On election day UK Polling Stations are open from 7am to 10pm.  It's usually quieter in the morning, and busier after work and in the evening.

Inside, the staff ask your name and tick you off the list.  They give you a ballot paper with the list of candidates to choose from.  Take it into a polling booth.

To Vote, put a cross in one box beside the name of your chosen candidate as shown below.

How to vote in a UK General Election

and  How to Vote NONE

To Vote NONE, write NONE across the ballot paper, and put a single line through all the boxes. (image below)

To vote NONE, draw a line through all the boxes, and
    write NONE in large clear letters.

Voting NONE must be clear, so don't put a tick or cross anywhere, and don't write anything more.  (To know why, see Protest Votes Count.)

Fold it and put it in the ballot box.

Confidentiality:  Nobody will ask you how you voted.  You don't need to tell anyone.  It's your private decision.

Make your decision beforehand

The only vote that matters is the one you actually put on the ballot paper…

If you leave your decision to the last minute, or change your mind at the Polling Station, there's a chance you'll regret it.

So decide calmly in advance, and have confidence in your decision.  Don't be scared or put off by others, or by newspaper headlines trying to influence your vote.

(If you make a mistake on the ballot paper, you can ask for a replacement paper.  The officer will take the spoilt paper from you.)

Enjoy the privilege

Voting is a simple but amazing democratic process.

A strong democracy is the only alternative to being controlled by dictators or wealthy corporations.  The priority is to make our democracy stronger, both through visible protest and through electing better people.

Watch the results come in

Counting starts when the polls close, and it carries on right through the night and into the next day.  Watching the results come in can be fun, especially if you are celebrating or commiserating with friends.

Why be silent?   Vote for a candidate who you trust to work hard for things you believe in, or vote NONE in protest.