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 4b.)
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
- There is always a deadline to register, usually about 3 weeks before the election. But don't wait, register now.
We all have to register individually. (If you have moved home, 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.
2. Vote in person? or by post?
You can choose to vote in person or by post.
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.)
Take it with you to vote. If you lose it, you can still vote. Just remember where to go, or ask a neighbour.
In advance, think whether you can help other people to get to the polling station, who may be busy with work and family, or disabled, or elderly, or have no transport.
4. How to Vote
To vote by post:
If you have registered to vote by post, you will receive the postal ballot paper. Follow the instructions carefully, and post it several days before election day to be sure it arrives in time. To vote NONE, see 4b. below.
To vote in person:
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.
(Outside, there may be 2 or 3 people wanting to check who has voted so they can ensure all their supporters vote. You can ignore them and walk straight past.)
Inside, the official staff will ask your name and tick you off the list. They will give you a ballot paper with the list of candidates to choose from.
Take it into a polling booth (cubicle), to be private.
4a. How to Vote for a candidate
To Vote, put a cross in one box beside the name of your chosen candidate, as shown below.
(Do not put another mark, or write any words, because it is likely to invalidate your vote.)
4b. How to Vote NONE
To Vote NONE, write NONE across the ballot paper, and put a single line through all the boxes. (Image below.)
Voting NONE must be clear:
● Don't put a tick or cross anywhere.
● Don't write anything more.
(To know why, see Protest Votes Count.)
Fold it for privacy, and put it in the ballot box.
Mistakes: If you make a mistake on the ballot paper, you can ask for a replacement paper. The officer will take the unwanted paper from you.
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.
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.