If you're eligible to vote and have registered to do so, you'll receive a poll card about four weeks before an election.
The poll card shows the date of the election, which polling station to use, the hours it's open and any deadlines for applying to vote by post or proxy.
If you think you won't be able to get to your polling station on election day, you can apply to vote by post or appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf.
If you already have a postal or proxy vote but want to switch back to voting in person, you will need to write to us at the address below. We need you to provide a signature so that we can check it against your original application.
At the polling station
- Polling stations are open from 7 am until 10 pm on polling day.
- You don't have to take your poll card with you to vote, but it can save time if you do.
- When you arrive at the polling station, go to the issue desk and tell the staff your name and address.
- You'll be given your ballot paper(s), which will show the candidates and their political parties or state if they are an independent candidate.
- If you need help or are confused about what to do, ask the polling station staff for assistance. They are there to help.
- If you need help to mark your ballot paper, you can take a companion with you. You must tell the staff if you wish to do this, as they need to record the details of anyone who has not marked the ballot paper themselves.
- You can also ask the officer in charge of the polling station, known as the Presiding Officer, to help you vote. They will also keep a record of who they have marked a ballot paper for.
- If you or someone you know has a sight impairment, a voting device is available to allow independent voting. Tell the staff you want to use the tactile voting device and they will assist you.
The ballot paper at elections for the City Council, the County Council or the UK Parliament (a general election)
- These elections use the first-past-the-post voting system.
- You vote for one candidate.
- At some city elections, you may be able to vote for more than one candidate (for example if there is also a by-election in your ward) but the ballot paper will tell you how many candidates you can vote for.
- Go to a polling booth so that you can make your vote in secret.
- Put an X next to the candidate you wish to vote for, fold your ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box.
- If you make a mistake, you can ask for a replacement ballot paper (your spoilt paper does not go into the ballot box).
- When the votes are counted, the candidate with the most votes is elected.
The ballot paper at elections for the Police & Crime Commissioner or the Combined Authority Mayor
- These elections use the supplementary voting system.
- This means that you have up to two votes.
- Vote for the candidate of your choice in the first column.
- You can also vote for a second candidate in the second column, but you do not have to.
- When the votes are counted, if your first choice candidate does not get enough votes to be placed first or second, we will look at your second choice candidate. If your second choice candidate is for one of those top two, it will be added to the votes.
Tellers - the people outside the polling station
You may sometimes see people sitting outside the polling station. These are known as 'tellers' and are there on behalf of a candidate or political party.
They are not an official part of the election process, but they are allowed to ask you for your electoral number as you enter or exit the station. You do not have to give them the information.