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Register to vote

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Why you have to register

To vote in elections you need to be on the Electoral Register.

It is a legal requirement to give the information asked for in the registration form and failure to do so could result in a fine, or even imprisonment. You are not automatically registered even if you pay Council Tax.

Also, banks and credit reference agencies use the Electoral Register to confirm where you live. If you are not registered, you may not be able to apply for a loan or mortgage, bank or building society account, mobile phone contract or home shopping catalogue.

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Who can register to vote?

Age

You must be 18 or older to vote. You can register to vote when you are 16.

Residence

People can register only for the address where they are resident. You should include:

  • People who are temporarily away - for example, away working, on holiday, in student accommodation or in hospital.
  • Any other residents, lodgers or guests (but not short stay visitors) at your address.

Nationality

  • British citizens
  • Citizens of the Irish Republic
  • Citizens of other European Union countries. EU citizens will be registered as local government electors only (except citizens of Cyprus, Malta, or the Irish Republic, who can vote in all elections).
  • Qualifying Commonwealth citizens. This means Commonwealth citizens who have leave to enter or remain in the UK or do not require such leave.

Use this form to register to vote:

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The Annual Canvass of Electors

Registration forms are sent to every household during October and November. This form lists the names of everyone living at the address that are currently registered to vote, and asks you add or amend details as necessary. You must ensure this form is returned to us every year or you may not appear on the revised register, and could lose your right to vote.

If you have not received your form by the end of October, please telephone Electoral Services on 01424 451 087.

Registering to vote by Freephone, internet or text

If all the details on your form are correct or you wish to exclude a household member from the edited register you can register by Freephone, internet or text. Please note, these services are only available during the annual canvass - if you need to register outside of the canvass period you must complete a registration form and post it back to us.

What are the 'full' and 'edited' registers?

There are two versions of the electoral register - the full version and the edited version.

The full register is used only for electoral purposes, preventing and detecting crime and checking applications for credit. The full register is available for inspection, under supervision, at our offices. The edited register is available for general sale and can be used by any person, company or organisation for any purpose, including commercial activities such as marketing. The edited register is available for inspection at Hastings Information Centre.

Your name and address will appear on the full register, but you can choose whether or not you want your details to appear on the edited register when you complete your registration form.

How to 'opt out' of the edited register

If you want to opt out of having your details appear on the edited register, you must tick the 'Edited Register' box on your registration form. If you do not tick the box or request that your name is excluded when using the telephone or internet services then your details will appear on the edited register, even if you have previously opted out.

Please note that the legal position in relation to this aspect of the registration form has been clarified recently and we will no longer pre-tick the box even if you previously decided to opt out of the edited register. Therefore, you must tick the box every year in order to continue to opt out of the edited register.

You will not lose your right to vote if you choose to opt out of having your details appear on the edited register and your name and address will still appear on the full register.

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Direct Marketing: opting out

You need to tell us if you do not want your personal information to be used for direct marketing.

The voter registration form gives you the choice of opting out of the edited version of the electoral register by ticking the box on the form.

You must also ask each person named on the form if they want to opt out of the edited register. Under election law, you must be offered this choice each year and the opt-out only applies for the next 12 months.

However, under Section 11 of the Data Protection Act 1998, you can give us notice that you do not want your personal information to be used for direct marketing either permanently or until further notice.

You cannot do this on behalf of another person. Each individual at your address must inform us separately that they want to do this. If you give notice under Section 11, we will pre-tick the opt-out box on the form in the future (or until further notice) to show that you do not want to appear on the edited register.

If you would like to give notice, please write to us or include a signed letter with your voter registration form when you return it. Alternatively, you can email us at electoralservices@hastings.gov.uk. Please note, your notification must include your full name and address, and must be signed and dated by the person giving notice.

You can write to us at the following address:

The Electoral Registration Officer
Aquila House
Breeds Place
Hastings
East Sussex
TN34 3UY

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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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Contact information

Please contact us for further information or advice about the Register of Electors or registering to vote.

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