Six Tips to Remember for Polling Day

Here are a few things to consider on polling day for the upcoming election - from the rules on taking selfies, to how to mark your choice on the ballot paper.

1. When to visit the polling station

Polling stations are open on election days from 7am to 10pm

Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm and should not close at any point during this time - even during lunch time!

If you're unable to get to the polling station until just before closing time, as long as you have arrived and/or are in the queue at 10pm you will still be able to vote.

If there's an emergency on polling day and you've been called away for work or 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.

If you've registered for a postal vote but you run out of time to send it back - you can take your completed ballot to your local polling station by 10pm, or Electoral Registration Office before they close.

2. What if you don't have a polling card?

Lost your polling card? You can vote without one

Normally, a polling card will be sent to you by post and will include your details and the information of the election taking place such as the date, polling station opening times and the location.

If you don't receive your polling card - don't worry! As long as you are registered to vote you can still vote, you can find your local polling station by entering your postcode on the Where Do I Vote? website.

Remember - if you are registered to vote using your university accommodation address you must use that postcode instead of your home address.

And if you've lost your polling card - you don't need to worry either.

You don't need a poll card to vote.

3. Wanna take a selfie?

You can get into serious trouble for taking selfies inside the ballot both or polling station - save them for outside

You might want to share with your social media followers that you've just exercised your right to vote.

There are very strict laws in place around the secrecy of a ballot at any election in the UK and taking photos inside the polling station isn't allowed as it might risk the secrecy of the ballot.

It's illegal to reveal how someone else has voted and it's also illegal to take a picture of a ballot papers' unique identification number. A ballot selfie accidentally featuring either of these could land you in a lot of trouble.

However, taking a picture outside next to the polling booth sign to encourage others to head out and vote - or bringing the family dog along to wait outside and take part in #DogsAtPollingStations is OK.

4. Spoiling your ballot

If you don't want to spoil your ballot, don't make any other marks on the ballot paper - or your vote won't count!

Sometimes, you might be tempted to add an additional comment to your ballot paper or try to make it really obvious who it is you're voting for (by circling them or drawing arrows) - but, doing this will mean your vote won't count.

Any additional marks on your ballot paper other than a tick or cross for your selected candidate would spoil your ballot.

Some voters choose to spoil a ballot on purpose to make a political statement - but if you want your vote to count, make sure you avoid any other marks on the paper.

5. Do you need ID?

You don't need to bring ID to the polling station to vote

If you’ve lost your ID or can’t find it on the day – don't worry! You do not need to provide any ID to vote - the person at the polling station will just ask you to confirm your name and address before giving you your ballot paper and directing you to a booth.

6. How do I stay safe when voting during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Stay covid safe when you vote | visit for more information

All polling stations are taking steps to make sure it's safe for you to vote. 

Your polling station will have similar guidance to supermarkets, cafes and restaurants. For example, there will be physical distancing in place and you will be required to wear a face covering while inside (unless you are exempt).

There will be hand sanitiser available when you enter the polling station which you should use when you both enter and exit. You can take your own pen or pencil, or the polling station will have clean pens and pencils for you to use. 

Polling place staff will be behind clear screens and will clean booths regularly, this might mean needing to wait a little longer.

Due to physical distancing, there might be queues on election day and there might also be one-way system in place. Keep an eye out for instructions and guidance at the polling station.

Voting by proxy is when you a trusted person to vote on your behalf. You must be registered for a proxy vote by April 27th to vote by proxy in the Scottish Parliamentary Election 2021. Your polling station must know this in advance of the election. To find out more about proxy voting and to access the form visit the electoral commission website. 

You have to be registered for a postal vote by April 6th 2021 to submit a postal vote in this years Scottish Parliamentary Election. Your postal vote needs to be with the elections team at your council by 10pm on polling day to be counted.

Find out more about voting in elections on our voting page.