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How to vote

Find out about Local Government Elections - Thursday 2 May 2019.

Voting at a polling station

  • If you are registered to vote at a polling station, you will  receive a poll card approximately 5 weeks before an election.
  • The poll card tells you when the election is, and where your polling station is.
  • The polling station is the place where you go to vote, it could be a school, hall, community centre or a portable cabin.
  • Polling stations are open 7am - 10pm.
  • You will be given a ballot paper.
  • You will then be shown to a polling booth.
  • Follow the instructions and make your choice (you can mark your paper by pencil or pen)
  • The staff can help you, but you must make your own choice.
  • Once you have voted, put the ballot paper into the ballot box.

Find your polling station.

Voting by post

If you would like to apply to vote by post please email or call us on 0191 427 7000 and we will send you a postal vote application form.  We must receive your completed application form by 5pm, 11 working days before an election.

If you have applied to vote by post you will receive a postal poll card approximately 5 weeks before an election.  You will then you will receive your postal voting pack approximately 2 weeks before election day.

  • First you need to sign the postal voting statement and add your date of birth. (You have already given these when you completed your postal application form). This is to prevent fraud.
  • Follow the instructions and make your choice on the ballot paper (with a pen or pencil).
  • Put your ballot paper into envelope A and seal it, then keeping everything attached. Put everything into envelope B and seal it.

If you are not registered to vote, see Register to vote.

Marking your ballot paper - pencils or pens?

There is no legal requirement for ballot papers to be marked with a pencil.  Pencils are typically provided inside polling stations, however pens are available from the Presiding Officer or voters can choose to bring their own pen into the station to vote.

Pencils are used for practical reasons: with ink pens there is always a risk that they may dry out or spill; ink may cause some transfer of the mark the voter has made on the ballot paper when they fold it, potentially leading to their vote being rejected if, for example, it looks like they have voted for more candidates than they are entitled to.

Legislation has built specific safeguards into the process to prevent and detect tampering with ballot papers: there is a requirement for seals to be attached to ballot boxes and candidates and agents are entitled to be present at the close of poll and can attach their own seals if they wish; at the count candidates and agents can then check their seals before the ballot boxes are opened.

Proxy vote

If you're unable to vote in person you can ask someone to vote on your behalf. This is called a proxy vote. Find out more at GOV.UK: Apply to vote by proxy.

How to vote (British Sign Language):

Your vote is yours alone

Your vote doesn't belong to anyone who intimidates you, pretends to be you, tries to bribe you, or enter the polling booth with you.

It's yours, and yours alone. If someone tries to take your vote, or the vote of anyone you know, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit:

Crimestoppers: Your vote is yours alone

Your vote is yours alone

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