In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk of elections and if you’re eligible to vote, you’ll need to register to make sure you have your say. But whether or not a general election is called in the coming weeks, registering to vote is a good idea, as it improves your credit score and is a great proof of address and identity!
Most people living in the UK are eligible to register to vote. Everybody over 16 can do so, even though you are not able to vote until you are 18. If you are an Irish, Commonwealth or European Union Citizen, or a British citizen living abroad, you’ll also be able to register.
Here’s how to sign up…
When you register to vote, you are signing up to the Electoral Register. You can do this at any time of the year and if you stay living in the same property, you’ll only need to register once. It’s important to note that you don’t need to register separately for every election.
To sign up to the Electoral Register, you’ll need your National Insurance number and – if you’re a British citizen living abroad – your passport. You will find your National Insurance number on pay slips, benefits letters and also on your National Insurance card. When you register, it’s a straight-forward process and only takes a few minutes.
You can register to vote in a couple of ways:
- You can go to the government’s website and follow the simple steps here
- Or you can register by post by printing the forms available here
If you’re not sure if you’ve already signed up for the Electoral Register in the past and would like to check, follow the link here. This will redirect you to your local Electoral Registration Office. Here you can check if your details are up to date and you can also choose whether your details will show on the ‘open register’, which is a public record.
There are also a couple of situations where you will need to re-register to vote:
- Firstly, if you move house you must re-register with the new address – even if you pay Council Tax, this does not mean that you are automatically eligible to vote
- Secondly, if you change your name, either because of marriage or via deed poll, you must re-register – even if you didn’t move house
If you’re not signed up or your details aren’t correct and there’s an election coming up, make sure you register at least 12 days before voting day!
When voting day comes, there are a few ways to vote, so plan for the best option for your situation:
Voting in person
Your local Electoral Registration Office will send you a poll card just before an election telling you where and when to vote. If you have not received a poll card but think you should, contact your local Electoral Registration Office by clicking the link above. If you’ve lost your card though, don’t worry! You’ll still be able to vote.
Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on the day of the election and are usually located in public buildings like schools or local halls.
Voting by post
You’ll receive a ballot paper in the post, which you’ll need to mark with your choice. Make sure you post your ballot back as quickly as possible to be sure it’s counted!
Voting by proxy
Voting by proxy means getting someone to vote for you. You can only apply for a proxy vote under certain circumstances, including:
- being away on polling day
- having a medical issue or disability
- not being able to vote in person because of work or military service
You’ll need to give the reason why you’re applying for a proxy vote and in most cases, you need someone to sign your application form to confirm your reasons for wanting a proxy vote. The application form will tell you who needs to sign it.
And there you have it; our simple guide to registering and voting! Signing up to the Electoral Register takes no time at all. So, whether it’s to get your records in order, improve your credit score or to get involved, it only takes a few minutes to get on the Register!
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