UK General Elections: How to Register to Vote
Today is the last day to register to vote in the UK snap general election which will take place on 8 June 2017. If you haven’t registered already, then you need to register by 11:59pm on 22 May.
So, this is what you need to know about voting in the general election:
Why do we have elections now?
According to the fixed-term Parliament’s Act, parliamentary general elections are held every five years, and the next one was scheduled for 7 May 2020. But, after Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for a snap general election on 19 April received the two-thirds majority in the House of Commons, the British public will be voting in a couple of weeks.
Voting for your candidate
You will vote once for your candidate in your constituency and whomever gets the most votes will become your MP. This is called “first-past-the-post” voting method where voters choose their candidate by marking one name on the ballot paper. You can find your local MP here.
How do I register to vote?
Everyone who is eligible to register—whether you are over 18 years old, British, Irish or an EU or Commonwealth national—needs to get on the electoral register or update their details. If you’re asked to register and fail to do so, your Electoral Registration Office could give you an £80 fine.
If you are registered to vote at your current address and received a poll card for the UK general election on 8 June then you don’t need to register again.
If you aren’t sure you are registered, you can either register online on the government website or go to your local Electoral Registration Office where they will tell you where to find the electoral register. It’s usually available in libraries. The register will have all the names and addresses of those registered in your local area.
On the online website you can register, update your name, address or other details on the electoral register, change whether you will vote in person or by post or change whether you’re on the open register. This will only take you 5 minutes.
What do I need to register?
You may need your National Insurance Number or your passport if you are a British expat.
Public servants overseas
Crown servants, British Council employees and armed forces will need to register through different registration services. To register here, you will need your National Insurance Number and your payroll or staff ID number printed on your payroll. Children of Crown servants or British Council employees must register by post, as long as they fulfil certain criteria found here.
Two registers: Electoral and Open register (or edited register)
There are two versions of the electoral register. The open register and the full version. The open register is available to everyone who wants to buy a copy. It is an extract of the electoral register and isn’t used for elections. It can be bought by anyone, usually companies, local councils and organisations wanting to check the identity or address of people who apply for their services or whom they want to contact. By opting out of the open register, won’t affect your right to vote. The full version, with everyone’s name and address, is only used for elections, to avert or detect crime and for checking applications for loans or credit.
You can also register to vote anonymously if you are concerned about your safety. You will need to prove the reason for this, but if you do, your details won’t appear on any version of the electoral register.
Can I register at 2 addresses?
While you can only vote once, you can register at two addresses, if you are a student with a different home and temporary addresses. You can make two applications through the “register to vote” service and your local Electoral Registration Office will tell you whether you are eligible to register.
Who is eligible to vote?
To vote you need to be registered, be 18 or over, be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen, be resident at an address in the UK, or a British expat who has registered the last 15 years to vote in the UK. If you meet the above criteria and there is no legal reason to stop you from voting, then you should be able to vote.
How to vote
You can vote in person, by post or by proxy.
In person: your council will send you a poll card informing you of where and when to vote. If you’ve lost your card, you can still vote. Polling stations will open at 7am to 10pm on the day of the election. When you arrive at the polling station, you don’t have to take your poll card with you. Once inside the polling station, give the staff your name and address. They will give you a ballot paper which you will fill in the polling booth and put in the ballot box.
By post: If you are a British expat you need to apply for a postal vote whether for a specific period or permanently. You should complete your postal vote in secret, fill in a postal voting statement, put the ballot and statement in the envelope provided and post as quickly as possible.
By proxy: Someone can vote on your behalf, but you have to apply for a proxy vote if you are away on polling day, have a medical condition or disability or you’re unable to attend due to work or military service. It is possible to vote by post, but make sure to complete a postal vote application. I order to cancel your proxy vote or change the person who will vote on your behalf, you need to contact your local Electoral Registration Office.
According to the head of campaigns for the Electoral Commission, Emma Hartley, "Since the general election was announced on 18 April more than 2.3m applications to register have been submitted." She explained: “We saw similar levels of registration ahead of the referendum, and ahead of the 2015 general election, but because we’re working with such a shorter timeframe ahead of the 8 June general election, it’s a lot of applications within a shorter number of days.”
You can register here.