A General Election is the process by which MPs (Members of Parliament) are elected to represent the people of the United Kingdom in the House of Commons (HoC). In total there are 650 MPs.
A General Election is being held in the UK on Thursday 12th December 2019.
What happens on polling day?
On polling day (the day of the election) all registered voters can go to their local polling station and vote for the candidate of their choice. The UK is split into constituencies and the number of MPs in each constituent country of the UK is:
- 533 in England,
- 59 in Scotland,
- 40 in Wales, and
- 18 in Northern Ireland.
A constituency is the area that the MP who is elected will represent. You can find out which constituency you are in by checking the UK Parliament website.
How does the voting system work?
The voting system used in UK General Elections is known as First Past The Post (FPTP) which means that the person with the most votes in each constituency wins. The party that wins in the most constituencies will usually end up forming the new government.
The leader of the political party with the most elected MPs is then asked by the Queen to become Prime Minister and form a government to run the country. The leader of the political party with the second highest number of MPs normally becomes what is known as 'leader of the opposition'.
Voters choose who they would like to be their MP by marking the box next to their chosen candidates' name and political party, on their ballot paper, with a tick or a cross.
Who can vote?
To vote in the General Election you must:
- be registered to vote
- be 18 or over on December 12th 2019, the day of the election (‘polling day’)
- be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen
- be resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years)
- not be legally excluded from voting
Registration for the 2019 General Election has now closed.
When do you vote and what do you need to vote?
You can vote on polling day, on the 12th of December 2019 between 7am and 10pm.
Your polling card, which will be posted to you before the election, will let you know where your local polling station is - however, don't worry if you lose or misplace the card as you don't need it to actually vote!
If you have registered to vote and were planning on voting in person, but have been called away for work or you have a medical emergency, you may be able to apply for an emergency proxy. This means you can appoint someone to vote on your behalf.
You can only apply for an emergency proxy until 5pm on polling day.
Find out more about voting by proxy.
Why is it important to vote?
The MPs who are elected during the election will represent you and everyone else in the UK in the House of Commons at Westminster, making decisions which can affect everyone.
Things that are affected by what goes on in the House of Commons include:
- Foreign Policy
- Making Laws
If you aren’t sure about who you should vote for then be sure to research the manifestos and policies of political parties and candidates before the election so that you can make an informed decision about which candidate or party best suits your views.
Need more information?
Information on the candidates for your constituency is available from your local council.
For details on your local council, visit COSLA's website and if you're still feeling confused, take a look at our article on what all the political jargon means.
Further information can be found at:
Find out more information about voting.