How to vote in today’s general election

Today (December 12) millions of people in Britain are expected to cast their vote in what has been described as one of the most important general elections for a generation. Here is a simple guide to some of the key key issues and how to vote

DECISION DAY: Millions of voters will cast their vote in today's general election

What is this election for?

A total of 650 people will be elected today to serve as members of Parliament (MPs).

They will decide a wide range of laws and policies that will determine how the country is run.

This compares to local governments which deals with issues such as how local schools are run, traffic regulations and refuse collections

MPs are elected to the House of Commons, one of two chambers of Parliament in London, where the government is based.

What are the big issues at this election?

A range of detailed proposals that set out how the country should be run – from the economy, job creation, the education system and housing – have been outlined in all the party manifestos.

However, according to Ipsos Mori’s regular monthly survey, Brexit has been, by some margin, been the most important issue for voters over the last year.

In Ipsos Mori’s most recent survey in September, 57% of people questioned named it as the issue they were most concerned about.

How do people vote?

You need to register to vote before you can vote in UK elections or referendums.

If you’re eligible, you can vote in person on the day of the election at a named polling station. Or you can also apply for a postal or proxy vote instead.

You can vote either in person, by post or by asking someone else to vote for you which is called voting by proxy,

It is not possible to vote online in a general election.

Who is eligible to vote?

To vote in today’s General Election you must:

  • be registered to vote
  • be 18 or over on the day of the election (‘polling day’)
  • be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen
  • be resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years)
  • not be legally excluded from voting

Where do I vote?

You can cast your vote in person at a designated polling station (usually in a local public building, such as a school, church hall or a library).

Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on 12 December (‘polling day’).

Do polling stations have facilities for people with disabilities?

If you have a disability, your local Electoral Registration Office can tell you about:

  • physical access, for example wheelchair ramps and disabled parking spaces
  • low-level polling booths
  • equipment for voters with a visual impairment

Every polling station must provide at least one large print display version of the ballot paper and a special tactile voting device (TVD) to help people with sight loss.

Do I need to bring ID with me?

Everyone eligible to vote will have been sent a poll card in the last few weeks.  It gives details of when to vote and at which polling station.

You can only vote at the polling station location on your card.

You can still vote if you’ve lost your card.

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland you do not need to bring any identification to vote.

GENERAL ELECTION 2019: Today’s election is being called one of the most important in a generation

You will only need to show photo ID to vote in Northern Ireland (your passport, driving licence, Electoral Identity Card or certain kinds of Translink Smartpass).

What do I do when I arrive at the polling station?

Give your name and address to the staff inside the polling station when you arrive.

You’ll be given a ballot paper containing a list of the people, parties or options you can vote for.

How do I fill in the ballot paper?

Follow the instructions on the notices in the polling booth and on the top of the ballot paper to vote.

What do I do if I can’t get to the polling station today?

If you’re unable to vote in person you can ask someone to vote on your behalf. This is called a proxy vote.

You can only apply for a proxy vote under certain circumstances.

These include:

  • 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 can no longer apply to vote by proxy in today’s general election.

However you may be able to get an emergency proxy vote if you’re unable to vote in person because of either:

  • a medical emergency
  • your work

The deadline is 5pm

Who can act as a proxy?

You can ask anyone to act as your proxy – as long as they:

  • are registered to vote
  • can vote in the polling station stated on your poll card

If they cannot get to your polling station, they will need to contact your local electoral registration office to arrange for the person you have designated to cast their proxy vote by post.

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