How to Vote

There are several elections taking place over the next few years in various parts of the UK including local elections, the UK General election, the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections, the European election and in Scotland the independence referendum. To participate in these elections you must be on the electoral register. You are not automatically registered, and you have to renew your details every year.


Most people register or re-register between August and November every year, when the local council delivers a registration form to your home, and a new electoral register is published on 1 December each year.

During the rest of the year there are monthly updates to the electoral register. This is useful if, for example, you move house.

If you are eligible to vote, you can register at any time by filling in a registration form and sending it to your local electoral registration office, which is usually at your local council office.

You are not automatically registered to vote, even if you pay Council Tax. Electoral registration is a separate process from Council Tax registration. If you're not sure whether you're registered to vote, your local electoral registration office can tell you.

How to vote by post

If you live in the UK or abroad and apply in time, you can vote by post. Anyone can apply for a postal vote - you don't need to give a reason.

You can apply to vote by post for just one election, for a specific period, or permanently.

Complete your ballot paper in secret, seal it up yourself, and take it to the post box yourself if you can.

How to vote by proxy

If you live in the UK or abroad and you're unable to vote in person, you can ask someone to vote on your behalf, and tell them who to vote for. This is called a proxy vote. When you apply for a proxy vote, you have to give a valid reason.

You can apply to vote by proxy for just one election, for a specific period, or permanently.

Your application may have to be supported by someone like your doctor or employer. There are different application forms depending on your situation:

  • for a particular election (for example, you will be away on holiday)
  • because of a disability
  • because of your employment
  • because you are on an educational course
  • because you are living overseas
  • for Crown Servants or members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces
  • because of a medical emergency
  • You can find out more and print an application form from About My Vote (see link above), or contact your local electoral registration office.