Find out how to vote
- Electoral Registration and voting
- Electoral Register
- Voter ID
- Poll cards
- Polling day
- Voting in person
- Postal voting
- Proxy voting
- Overseas voting
Whatever your political views, it is important that you exercise your right to vote at all elections. Below is information advising you about voting.
From 4 May 2023, voters in England will need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations. If you don't have accepted photo ID, you can apply for a free voter ID document, which is known as a Voter Authority Certificate.
See our Voter ID webpage for more information on voter ID.
A new electoral register is compiled during the autumn every year and a new version of the electoral register is published on 1 December each year. Information is requested from every household to produce the new register. If you move after publication of the register you can apply to re-register at your new address.
To vote you need to be 18 years of age or over on polling day and your name must be on the electoral register for one of the Electoral Areas (Wards/Divisions/Parishes/Constituencies) where an election is being held. If your name is not included on the register then unfortunately, you will not be able to vote. Applications to vote at elections can be accepted up to 11 working days before an election is held. It is advisable though to make applications to register well in advance of an election being held.
See our Electoral register webpage for more information on how to register to vote.
All registered electors will be sent an official poll card. Details of where to vote, the date and times of voting and how to vote are shown on the card.
You can vote without your poll card (provided you have not applied for a postal vote) but it does save time if you take it to the polling station.
Postal Voters are also sent a card advising them of the election.
Elections are traditionally held on a Thursday and the hours of poll are 7 am to 10 pm for all elections. Poll cards will be delivered to all registered electors before an election is held. You don't need your card to vote so long as you are registered. The Poll card tells you where you should vote.
Once at the polling station, hand over your poll card (if you have taken it) and acceptable photo ID to one of the official polling station staff. Tellers [the people who sit outside the polling station] are not part of the official polling station Staff; they are appointed by the political parties for their own purposes. Once your name has been found on the register the clerk will issue you with a ballot paper.
Go to one of the booths and mark a cross (X) in the box on the right had side of the ballot paper. (The number of candidates you can vote for can vary depending on the type of election). Fold the ballot paper in two. Do not show anyone your vote. Put the folded ballot paper in the ballot box and leave the polling station.
If you make a mistake and need another ballot paper, show it to the presiding officer and ask for another one. He/she will take your spoilt ballot paper from you when you are issued with a replacement ballot paper.
An enlarged version of the ballot paper will be displayed at the polling station and a template for those who are partially sighted or who experience dyslexia are available for use at the polling station.
The way to apply for a postal vote is changing from 31st October 2023. Applications will now require you to supply your national insurance number and date of birth. You will also be required to upload an image of you signature. The quickest way to apply is online, but paper applications can be sent on request.
You will be required to reapply for a postal vote every 3 years, we will send you a letter when your postal vote is up for renewal.
Postal voting is a most convenient method of voting, you don't need to go the polling station. All you need to do is mark the ballot paper for the candidate you are voting for, sign and provide your date of birth on the statement which comes with the postal vote and return it to the Returning Officer at East Pallant House, East Pallant, Chichester in the reply paid envelope. You can apply for a postal vote a any time but during an election period, we must recieve the application no later than 5pm eleven working days before an election is held.
If you are unable to visit the polling station and you do not want to vote by post you can appoint somebody to vote as your proxy (at your polling station). To appoint a proxy you will need to complete the appropriate application form which can be sent your home address.
From 31 October 2023, there will be limits to how many people you can act as a proxy for at some elections and you will be able to apply online for some types of proxy vote
You can register as an overseas voter if you are a British or eligible Irish citizen. You must renew your registration every year, you will get a reminder when it's time to renew. If you do not renew your registration, you will be removed from the register. You must then make a fresh application to vote again.
As an overseas voter you can vote in UK Parliament elections. You may be able to vote in referendums. Please be aware that each referendum has different rules on who can vote in it.
To apply as an overseas voter you will need to register in the normal way. You can then cast your vote by post or proxy, if you're eligible. You'll be asked to make this choice when you register.
Please send completed and signed application forms to either email@example.com or Electoral Services, East Pallant House, Chichester, PO19 1TY.