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Find out how to vote

Electoral Registration and voting

Whatever your political views, it is important that you exercise your right to vote at all elections. Below is information advising you about voting.

Voter ID

From 4 May 2023, voters in England will need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations. If you don't have accepted photo ID, you can apply for a free voter ID document, which is known as a Voter Authority Certificate.

See our Voter ID webpage for more information on voter ID.

Electoral Register

A new electoral register is compiled during the autumn every year and a new version of the electoral register is published on 1 December each year. Information is requested from every household to produce the new register. If you move after publication of the register you can apply to re-register at your new address.

To vote you need to be 18 years of age or over on polling day and your name must be on the electoral register for one of the Electoral Areas (Wards/Divisions/Parishes/Constituencies) where an election is being held. If your name is not included on the register then unfortunately, you will not be able to vote. Applications to vote at elections can be accepted up to 11 working days before an election is held. It is advisable though to make applications to register well in advance of an election being held.

See our Electoral register webpage for more information on how to register to vote.

Poll cards

All registered electors will be sent an official poll card. Details of where to vote, the date and times of voting and how to vote are shown on the card.

You can vote without your poll card (provided you have not applied for a postal vote) but it does save time if you take it to the polling station.

Postal Voters are also sent a card advising them of the election.

Polling day

Elections are traditionally held on a Thursday and the hours of poll are now 7 am to 10 pm for all elections. Poll cards will be delivered to all registered electors before an election is held. You don't need your card to vote so long as you are registered. The Poll card tells you where you should vote.

Voting in person

Once at the polling station, hand over your poll card (if you have taken it) to one of the official polling station staff. Tellers [the people who sit outside the polling station] are not part of the official polling station Staff; they are appointed by the political parties for their own purposes. Once your name has been found on the register the clerk will issue you with a ballot paper. If you wish you may have your poll card back to show to the tellers outside the station (but you do not have to do this if you don't want to).

Go to one of the booths and mark a cross (X) in the box on the right had side of the ballot paper. (The number of candidates you can vote for can vary depending on the type of election). Fold the ballot paper in two. Do not show anyone your vote. Put the folded ballot paper in the ballot box and leave the polling station.

If you make a mistake and need another ballot paper, show it to the presiding officer and ask for another one. He/she will take your spoilt ballot paper from you when you are issued with a replacement ballot paper.

An enlarged version of the ballot paper will be displayed at the polling station and a template for those who are partially sighted or who experience dyslexia are available for use at the polling station.

Postal voting

Postal voting is a most convenient method of voting, you don't need to go the polling station and if you apply by eleven working days before an election is held we will send you a postal vote. All you need to do is mark the ballot paper for the candidate you are voting for, sign and provide your date of birth on the statement which comes with the postal vote and return it to the Returning Officer at East Pallant House, East Pallant, Chichester in the reply paid envelope. Remember, 5pm eleven working days before an election is held (at the latest) is the last date we can accept postal vote applications and all postal vote applications need to be signed and include the applicants date of birth.

Postal vote application form

Proxy voting

If you are unable to visit the polling station and you do not want to vote by post you can appoint somebody to vote as your proxy (at your polling station). To appoint a proxy you will need to complete the appropriate application form which can be sent your home address.

Proxy vote application form

Overseas voting

You can register as an overseas voter if you are a British or eligible Irish citizen. You must renew your registration every year, you will get a reminder when it's time to renew. If you do not renew your registration, you will be removed from the register. You must then make a fresh application to vote again.

As an overseas voter you can vote in UK Parliament elections. You may be able to vote in referendums. Please be aware that each referendum has different rules on who can vote in it.

To apply as an overseas voter you will need to register in the normal way. You can then cast your vote by post or proxy, if you're eligible. You'll be asked to make this choice when you register.

Please send completed and signed application forms to either or Electoral Services, East Pallant House, Chichester, PO19 1TY.