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How to vote

Polling stationOn this page:

Register to vote

You can only vote if you are on a register of electors. See Registering to vote.

Voting at a polling station

Normal polling hours are 7am until 10pm.

Find your polling station

We send a poll card to all qualified electors before each election. This tells you when, where and how to vote. It also gives you enough time to change your details or apply for a postal or proxy vote.

The poll cards for the European Parliamentary and Borough Council elections on 22 May 2014 will be delivered from Thursday 17 April 2014.

On the day of the election, you go along to the polling station shown on the card, give your address and name, and are given a ballot paper. There is lots of information in the polling station to help you, and our staff are happy to give you more help. You do not need your poll card to vote, but you do have to be a registered elector.

You mark your vote in secret on the ballot paper in a cubicle and put it in the sealed ballot box. The ballot boxes are only opened after the polling stations have closed and they are taken to a central counting place. No one knows how you voted.

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Voting by post

You can choose to vote by post rather than going to your polling station. If you have a postal vote, you cannot vote at a polling station.

If you want to vote by post you can download a Postal Vote Application Form (12kB). Please make sure you print with the Page Scaling set to "None".

For the European Parliamentary and Borough Council elections on 22 May 2014 the deadline for applying for a postal vote is 5.00pm on Wednesday 7 May 2014.

We will issue postal ballot papers from Friday 9th May 2014. They go by first class post with a special first class reply envelope to return them. The Royal Mail treats postal votes as a priority.

We include instructions on how to return the postal vote, with a security statement that you have to complete with your signature and date of birth. You have to return this to us, with the ballot paper(s), before the close of polling on the day of the election.

We compare the signature and date of birth on your statement with those on your application. The vote cannot be counted if they do not match.

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Voting by proxy

If you cannot go to your polling station you can also apply to vote by proxy. This means that someone can vote on your behalf. This is especially useful if you are overseas and it would be difficult to return your postal vote in time. Your proxy must be legally able to vote and they cannot vote on behalf of more than two people unless they are closely related to them.

If you want to vote by proxy you can download a Proxy application form (47kB). Please make sure you print with the Page Scaling set to "None".

For the European Parliamentary and Borough Council elections on 22 May 2014 the deadline is 5.00pm on Wednesday 14 May 2014. A proxy vote may be useful if you are too late to apply to vote by post. You can still apply if there is a medical emergency after the deadline, but you need to contact us for a special form.

You have to give a reason for a proxy application. If applying for a long-term proxy you also normally need to have it countersigned. An emergency proxy vote application must be countersigned.

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People with disabilities

We have tried to make all our polling stations accessible for electors using a wheelchair. We install temporary ramping if necessary. We have over 70 different buildings for polling, and in some areas there is no choice of what we can use, so some polling stations are harder to use than others. We last reviewed all our polling stations in 2011. Before then we were able to make improvements for the elections in 2008 and in 2009. We have to complete a full review of all our polling stations at least every four years.

Inside the polling station are large print versions of the ballot paper. There is always at least one polling booth which is wider and with a lower shelf than the normal booths. Voters with a sight impairment can use a special device, which when placed on the ballot paper lets you mark your own vote.

Any voter who has a sight impairment or other physical disability, or who is unable to read, can ask the presiding officer in the polling station to allow a companion to help them. The companion must be a close relative over 18 or a person who is entitled to vote at the election. The presiding officer can do the same things to help. Everyone has to follow a legal requirement to maintain the secrecy of the elector's vote.

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See also

This page was last updated on Monday 14 April 2014