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How to vote


  1. By post
  2. At a polling station
  3. Ask someone else to vote on your behalf (proxy vote)
  4. Easy read information for voters with a learning disability
  5. Your vote is yours alone

By post

Applying for a postal vote will give you the confidence of being able to take part in the May 2021 elections, no matter what the situation with coronavirus.

Apply for a postal vote

To vote by post in the May 2021 elections, you must get your application form to us by 5pm on Tuesday 20 April 2021

However, if you want to vote by post, please apply as soon as possible. This will make sure your application is processed early, and means we can send the postal votes out more quickly once the candidates for the elections are confirmed.

To apply for a postal vote: 

  1. Complete the below application form by hand (we cannot accept a digital signature)
  2. Return to us by post, or email a scanned copy 

Application forms:

  • If you are registered to vote in South Tyneside, and you are not already a postal voter you will get a postal vote application form delivered to you in February 2021
  • Or, download and print the application form to vote by post107.5KB (complete by hand - we cannot accept a digital signature)
  • Or, ask us to post an application form to you by emailing or calling 0191 427 7000

Return your application form to us by either:

  • Post: Elections Office, South Tyneside Council, Town Hall, Westoe Road, South Shields, NE33 2RL
  • Email a scanned copy to:

How to vote by post

If you have applied to vote by post you will get a postal poll card about five weeks before an election. You will then get your postal voting pack about two weeks before election day.

To vote: 

  • 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

At a polling station

The polling station is the place where you go to vote. It could be a school, hall, community centre or a portable cabin. Find your polling station.

If you are registered to vote at a polling station, you will get a poll card about five weeks before an election. The poll card tells you when the election is, and where your polling station is.

Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm.

When you get to the polling station: 

  • 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

Marking your ballot paper - pencils or pens?

Ballot papers can be marked with a pencil or pen.

Pencils are usually provided inside polling stations for practical reasons, including:

  • ink pens may dry out or spill
  • when the voter folds the ballot paper, ink may transfer to elsewhere on the ballot paper - this could cause the vote to be rejected (for example, if it looks like they have voted for more candidates than allowed)

Pens are available from the Presiding Officer in the polling station, or you can bring your own pen with you.

There is legislation to prevent and detect tampering with ballot papers:

  • seals must be attached to ballot boxes
  • candidates and agents can be present at the close of poll and can attach their own seals if they wish
  • at the count, candidates and agents can check their seals before the ballot boxes are opened

Ask someone else to vote on your behalf (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.

For more information and an application form visit GOV.UK: Apply to vote by proxy.

To return your application form: 

Easy read information for voters with a learning disability 

Mencap has created easy to read guides and videos to help voters with a learning disability understand how to vote.

See Easy read guide and videos for voters with a learning disability

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

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