Five Things to Remember When Voting in an Election

Here are a few things to consider when voting in an 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 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?

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 – don’t worry! You don’t need a polling card to vote.

3. Wanna take a selfie?

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 is OK.

4. Spoiling your ballot

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?

Voters are legally required to show photo ID when voting at a polling station at some elections.

Voters in Scotland need to show photo ID to vote at UK Parliament elections. You do not need to show photo ID to vote in Scottish Parliament or local council elections in Scotland.

The video below explains the types of ID that are accepted at polling places in Scotland.

If you don’t have ID, you can apply for free Voter ID known as a Voter Authority Certificate. You need to be registered to vote before you apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.

Find the full list of accepted ID on the Electoral Commission website.

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