Register to vote
The first step you must take is to register to vote.
You can only vote if you are:
- on the electoral register
- eighteen years or older on polling day
- a British, Commonwealth, Irish or European Union citizen
- not subject to any legal incapacity to vote, such as being in prison
Voting for EU citizens
If you are a European Union citizen - other than British or Irish citizens - you can only vote at local elections. You cannot vote at general UK parliamentary elections.
Voting when you live overseas
Read more information about registering to vote and voting if you are a British citizen resident overseas, a crown servant or are serving in the armed forces.
Voting at the polling station
Just before an election, you will be sent a polling card that tells you where and when to vote. On election day, you go to the polling station to vote - usually a local hall or other public building such as a school in the area where you live. Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on polling day.
When you arrive at the polling station, tell the election staff your name and address. You can take your polling card with you. The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper, which is a list of the people or parties you can vote for. The ballot paper will tell you how many votes you have. You can ask a member of staff at the polling station for help.
Filling in your ballot paper
No-one is allowed to see who you vote for, so make sure you vote in a polling booth, with a screen around it, so that you can vote in privacy. Put an X by the person or party you want to vote for. Fold your ballot paper, preferably in half, and put it in the ballot box.
If you make a mistake while marking your ballot paper, you should ask for a replacement paper. Your spoilt ballot paper will be taken from you and will not be placed in the ballot box.
Read more information about the voting process on the Electoral Commission website.
Voting if you have a disability
If you have a disability, your local electoral registration office can tell you about:
- physical access, for example wheelchair ramps and disabled parking spaces
- low-level polling booths
- equipment for voters with a visual impairment
Every polling station must provide at least one large print display version of the ballot paper and a special tactile voting device to help people with sight loss.
Other ways to vote
For more information on voting when you cannot vote in person, see our postal voting and proxy voting pages.
There are laws and security measures to prevent people illegally interfering with the elections. It is an offence to:
- falsely apply for a postal or proxy vote
- supply false information or fail to supply information to the electoral registration officer at any time
- unduly influence someone, even if it does not affect the way they vote
From 4 May 2023 you will need to show photo ID when voting in person in some UK elections or referendums.
You will need it to vote in:
- UK parliament by-elections
- local elections in England, including councils, mayors, the Greater London Authority and parishes
- recall of MP petitions in England, Scotland and Wales
- police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales
- neighbourhood planning referendums and business improvement district referendums in England
- local authority referendums in England, including council tax increase referendums