What are the different ways to vote?

Voting in an election

To enable as many people as possible to take part in electing their representative to Parliament, there are three options for placing your vote: in person at a polling station, by post or by choosing someone to vote on your behalf (by proxy).

You must be registered to vote in order to vote in general elections.

Voting in person

Most people visit a polling station on the day of a general election to place their vote. Polling stations are set up in local buildings across the UK, for example school or community halls.

On election day, polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm to ensure as many people as possible can get there, for example before or after work or in a lunch break.

If you are on the electoral register, you will receive a poll card. The poll card will give you the details of where and when to vote in your area.  

Voting by post

An alternative way to vote is by post. Anyone aged over 18 can apply for a postal vote if you are on the electoral register and you do not need to provide a reason.

You will need to fill in a postal vote application form which is available from your local electoral registration office. Postal voting in Northern Ireland varies from the rest of the UK and it is advisable to contact the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland for further information.

Voting by proxy

If you are unable to get to a polling station you may choose to vote ‘by proxy’. A proxy vote means that you choose someone you trust to vote on your behalf.

This can be particularly helpful if you fall ill or if you are abroad on Election Day. Anyone over 18 can apply for a proxy vote if you are on the electoral register but you will need to provide a reason.

Further information

More information on how to vote can be found on the Electoral Commission website.

Image: iStock

Constituencies

The UK is currently divided into 650 areas called parliamentary constituencies, each of which is represented by one MP in the House of Commons.

Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission is an independent body, accountable directly to the UK Parliament, that regulates elections in the UK, promotes voter awareness and works to build confidence in the electoral process.

Parliament is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Living Heritage

Before 1918 no women were allowed to vote in parliamentary elections. Discover how the right to vote was extended to different sectors of society over the years.

Video: how the General Election works in nearly 60 seconds