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Register to vote

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The way we all register to vote has changed

The registration system in England and Wales changed in June 2014. The new system is called 'Individual Electoral Registration'.

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How is the new system different?

You can now register online at www.gov.uk

Everyone is responsible for registering themselves. Under the old system the 'head of every household' could register everyone who lived at their address.

You need to provide a few more details to register - including your national insurance number and date of birth. This makes the electoral register more secure.

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How do I register under the new system?

  1. Go to www.gov.uk
  2. Fill in your name, address, date of birth and a few other details. You'll also need your national insurance number, which can be found on your national insurance card, or in official paperwork such as payslips, or letters about benefits or tax credits
  3. Look out for a confirmation to say you're registered

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Will I need to do anything?

  1. Look out for a letter between Monday, 28 July and Monday, 04 August
    Most people who are already registered to vote will be registered automatically under the new system. They do not need to do anything. However, some people will need to take action to join the new register. We are writing to people to tell them whether they need to take action
  2. Respond to the letter if you are asked to The letter will tell you whether you are on the new register or whether you need to take action. It will tell you what to do
  3. If you do not respond to the letter if we ask you to, you will receive a reminder

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The Electoral Register and the Open Register

Using information received from the public, registration officers keep two registers - the Electoral Register and the Open Register (also known as the edited register).

The Electoral Register:

The Electoral Register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. This register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as:

  • detecting crime (e.g. fraud)
  • calling people for jury service
  • checking credit applications

Open Register:

The Open Register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.

You can find more information about both registers and how they may be used at www.gov.uk.

Your personal information

We will only use the information you give us for electoral purposes. We will look after personal information securely and we will follow the Data Protection Act 1998. We will not give personal information about you and the other people in your household to anyone else or another organisation unless we have to by law.

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Absent vote: by post

This is an easy and convenient way to vote if you're unable to vote in person at the polling station. To vote by post, you need to be on the electoral register. Then you need to complete a postal vote application form.

You can apply to vote by post when you register to vote by ticking the 'Postal Vote' box on your registration form next to your name. You will be sent a postal vote application form once you are registered which you will need to complete.

If you are already registered, please call Electoral Services on 01424 451 087 and ask for a postal vote application form to be sent to you.

Visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk for further information.

Who can apply for a postal vote?

Anyone aged 18 or over who is on the electoral register can apply for a postal vote.

Where can I have my postal vote sent?

A postal vote can be sent to the address where you are registered to vote or any other address you choose. Postal votes can be sent overseas, but you should consider whether there will be enough time to receive and return it by polling day.

When will I receive my ballot papers?

Postal votes are usually sent out about a week before polling day. Once you have received it, follow the instructions to mark your vote on the ballot paper and make sure you send it back so that it arrives by close of poll (10pm on polling day). If it arrives later than this you vote will not be counted.

Download the postal vote form:

If you would like further information about voting by post, please call Electoral Services on 01424 451 087 or

visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.

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Absent vote: by proxy

Voting by proxy is another way of voting if you are unable to vote in person at the polling station. A proxy is someone you appoint to vote on your behalf. To vote by proxy you need to be on the electoral register. Then you need to complete a proxy vote application form.

Voting by proxy can be useful if you fall ill and are unable to get to the polling station on polling day, or if you are abroad during an election. It can be particularly useful if you are overseas and may not be able to send a postal vote back in time for polling day (for instance, if you are in the Armed Forces and deployed overseas).

Who can apply for a proxy vote?

When you apply for a proxy vote you have to provide a reason. You can apply for a proxy vote if:

  • You are unable to go to the polling station for one particular election, for example, if you are away on holiday
  • You have a physical condition that means you cannot go to the polling station on polling day
  • You are a British citizen living overseas
  • You are a crown servant or a member of the Armed Forces

When can I apply to vote by proxy?

The deadline for applying to vote by proxy is normally six working days before polling day. However, if you have a medical emergency six working days before polling day or after, you can apply to vote by emergency proxy if the emergency means you cannot go to the polling station in person.

Who can vote on my behalf?

You can nominate anyone to be your proxy as long as they are eligible to vote in that type of election and they are willing to vote on your behalf.

Please note, a person cannot be a proxy for more than two people at any one election, unless they are a close relative.

If would like further information on voting by proxy, please call Electoral Services on 01424 451 087.

Visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk for further information.

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Absent vote: signature refresh

On your application for an absent vote you are required to provide a signature and date of birth (your 'personal identifiers'). When you vote by post at an election or referendum you also complete and return a statement giving your personal identifiers. We check the personal identifiers on your statement against those you gave on your application to check that they match. If they do not match, your vote cannot be counted. This is to prevent someone else from using your vote.

Your personal identifiers are always kept separate from your ballot paper, so no one knows how you have voted.

Signatures can change over time so if you have an absent vote that is more than five years old, we are required by law to ask you for a fresh signature.

If you now cannot sign, or cannot sign in the same way every time, but still want to vote by post, you can apply to keep your postal vote without giving your signature. For more information and to find out how to apply, please contact the Electoral Services office on 01424 451087.

If we don't receive a response after six weeks, your absent vote will be cancelled. You will still be able to vote in person at a polling station or you may submit a new absent vote application form. You can apply for a new postal vote up to 11 working days before an election.

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How should students living away from home register to vote?

Students can register at both a home address and a term-time address but may only vote once at the same election. In other words, you cannot vote twice in a UK Parliamentary or European Parliamentary election, but you can vote in local government elections at home and at your term-time address, as long as they are not in the same local government area. 

Visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk for further information.

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