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What happens at a polling station on election day

To cast your vote on election day, you'll need to go to your polling station, unless you have chosen to have a postal or proxy vote.

Polling stations are nearby to where you live and are usually a public building like a community hall or school.

You can only vote in person at the specific polling station allocated to you.  

How do I find out which is my polling station?

You get a 'poll card' in the post a few weeks before election day.

For the 2024 General Election this is an A4 letter folded into an A5 envelope. 

Your poll card will include information about where your polling station is.

You can also check where your polling station is by entering your post code on the Electoral Commission website

When will I be able to go and vote?

In the UK, elections are usually held on Thursdays and polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm.

The General Election (UK Parliamentary) is on Thursday 4 July 2024.

If you're in the queue to vote by 10pm, you'll be allowed to vote.

Do I need to bring anything with me?

You must bring valid photo ID to vote in a polling station.

A full list of accepted forms of ID will be included on your poll card.

You must bring the original document. We cannot accept scanned images, copies, or photos of your ID shown on your smartphone.

Out of date identification will be accepted if the photo is still a current likeness.

You don't have to bring your poll card with you, which you would have received to your registered address, but it can make it easier for the polling station staff to check your details. Your 'poll card' is an A4 letter folded into an A5 envelope.

Outside the polling station

When you arrive at a polling station, there may be people with clipboards and party rosettes standing outside.

These people are called Tellers and work for political parties to help keep track of how voting is going.

They might ask for your poll number (the reference number on your poll card with letters and numbers) and which candidate you are going to vote for or have voted for.

You do not have to tell them this information if you do not want to.

Voting in the UK is private, and you can keep this information to yourself if you wish.

Tellers use the information collected to inform their political parties, which is where they get their 'Exit Poll' results from, which can help them predict what the election outcome may be.

Tellers may also use the information to gauge how many people have voted and how many people they still need to encourage to go to the polls.

What happens inside the polling station?

Once you are inside your polling station, you will see our staff. They are usually sitting behind a table. 

They will have lanyards and name badges on. 

There's a Presiding Officer, and Poll Clerks. These people are there to help you and ensure the correct running of the polling station.

Tell them your name and address so they can check that you're on the electoral register.

They will then ask to see your photo ID, check your name on the register, and issue you with a ballot paper.

You then go to a screened booth so you can cast your vote in secret.

Pencils will be provided for you to use to cast your vote. You can bring your own pen or pencil with you to use if you wish.

For the general election you are asked to vote for one candidate by placing a cross in the box next to the candidate's name you wish to vote for.

If you mark a box in a different way instead of putting a cross, as long as your chosen candidate is clear, it will still be counted.

If you accidentally spoil your ballot paper, as long as you haven't put it in the ballot box, you can hand it back in at the desk and ask for another ballot paper.

You then place your folded ballot paper into the ballot box.

This box should be a short distance from the booth and be clearly marked and visible, but if you are not sure where the ballot box is, please ask a member of staff.

Some polling stations will have ballot boxes for more than one area, so please clearly follow signs and instructions to make sure you are placing your ballot in the correct box.

The box will have been checked and sealed at 7am for security reasons. Those seals will not be broken until the papers inside are ready to be counted after the close of poll.

How long does it take to vote at a polling station?

It should only take a few minutes to vote at a polling station.

Polling stations may become busy around peak times of the day, such as early morning and early evening. If the polling station is busy, you may be asked to wait in a queue inside or outside.

The polls close at 10pm. If you have joined the queue by 10pm, you will be allowed to cast your vote.

If you forget your photo ID, you can return home and collect it and return to the polling station to vote. If you return before 10pm with valid photo ID, you will be able to vote.

What help is there for people with disabilities?

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

  • physical access, for example wheelchair ramps and disabled parking spaces
  • low-level polling booths
  • any specific equipment you need

Every polling station must provide at least one large print display version of the ballot paper.

Tactile voting apparatus are available at all polling stations, as well as tools like writing grips, lower-level polling booths and magnifiers.

Can I bring my children with me?

You can bring your children or any other dependents with you to the polling station.

Children may be interested in learning about the democratic process so bringing them with you can help educate them about voting.

You must cast your vote yourself. Children are not allowed to mark the ballot paper for you.

Can anyone help me vote?

You can ask polling station staff for help, or you can bring someone with you.

Anyone over the age of 18 can come with you to help you cast your vote.

They don't need to be eligible to vote in that election.

Can I bring my dog to the polling station?

Generally, yes, you can bring your dog with you.  

Please keep them on a lead and follow the rules at the venue.

Is there a dress code when I go and vote?

There is no dress code when visiting a polling station.

If you wear a face covering for any reason, such as a mask worn on medical grounds or a face veil worn on religious grounds, you will be asked to remove it so polling station staff can check your ID looks like you.

You can ask to have your ID checked in private. You can also request that a female member of staff checks your ID. This request will be granted if possible.

There will be a mirror available in the polling station to allow you to replace your face covering once your ID has been checked.

Can I take photos in the polling station?

You cannot take photos inside a polling station as it may risk the secrecy of the ballot, but you can take photos outside.

Can I share voting information on social media?

If you would like to share that you have voted you are welcome to post on social media about going to vote.

The popular hashtag for the general election is #GeneralElection2024

Your vote is yours alone. While it is okay for you to choose to tell people how you have voted, it is illegal to share how another individual voted.

More information about the General Election (UK Parliamentary) 2024 

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