Voting for the General Election will be held on Thursday 7th May. This is your chance to have your voice heard in the poll to decide who will be in charge in government for the next 5 years. If you are not registered to vote then your voice cannot be taken into consideration. It is vitally important that both you and the person you care for, where possible, have the opportunity to have your voice heard and your vote counted.
If you are not already registered to vote then there are two easy ways to get yourself registered. You can register online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote, it only takes five minutes. However, if you would prefer, you can also register by post by downloading the form at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/voter-registration-forms-paper-versions You can also call Southampton City Councils Electoral Services on 023 8083 2245 to have the postal form sent out to you to complete and return.
In order to vote on May 7th you must be registered by Monday 20th April, after which you will not be able to cast your vote. Once you are registered you will receive your poll card in the post which details when and where you can cast your vote.
Once you are registered you can decide how you wish to vote in the General Election. There are three methods available to enable as many people as possible to have their say in the election.
- Vote in person
This will be done at your local polling station, detailed on your poll card, and is completed by putting a cross (x) next to the candidate you wish to vote for in your constituency’s election, in secret, on your ballot paper and placing your vote into the ballot box. For a more detailed description of this process visit http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/how-do-i-vote/voting-in-person.
If you, or the person you care for, require assistance in getting to your local polling station you can request help from your local electoral registration office. For residents in Southampton the electoral registration office is based at Southampton City Council, Civic Centre, and can be contacted on 023 8083 2245 or emailed at www.southampton.gov.uk/. In addition, if you, or the person you care for, has a visual impairment you can request the use of a specialist voting device which enables you to vote independently and in secret.
Registered voters are also entitled to have a companion with them when they cast their vote, if required, or a member of staff at the polling station can provide assistance. If you are assisting someone to cast their vote make sure you first speak to the Presiding Officer who will ask you to sign a form stating that you are supporting someone to vote. As a supporter you can read and explain the ballot paper to the person you care for and also mark the ballot paper for them if necessary. However, you must not choose for them or sway their decision in any way. In order to support someone to vote you must be an immediate family member over 18 years old or a trustworthy person who is registered to vote.
- Vote by proxy
Voting by proxy means that the voter can ask someone they trust to vote on their behalf at a polling station. For example, this could be necessary if the person is unable to leave their home to travel to the polling station due to a disability, sensory impairment or other barrier. As with supported voting the person nominated to vote on their behalf must be registered to vote themselves and be over 18 years of age.
If the process of voting by proxy is only needed for a single election then the following form can be filled in at: http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/177405/Particular-election-proxy.pdf.
If the person wishes to use the voting by proxy method in multiple elections, due to a disability or sensory impairment, then the following form needs to be completed: http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/177401/Disability-proxy.pdf
The application to opt for a by proxy vote must be submitted by 5pm six working days before the poll.
If there is an emergency situation after this deadline which leaves someone with a disability, which means they need to cast their vote by proxy, then an emergency form can be completed and submitted up until 5pm on the day of the election. If an emergency should arise the form required can be found here: http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/177406/Disability-emergency-proxy.pdf
- Vote by post
The final way that you can ensure you have your say in the upcoming election is to submit your vote by post. If you decide to vote by post you will receive your ballot paper to the address of your choice which you fill in and return to your local electoral registration office. The deadline for submission of the postal vote application form is by 5pm eleven days before the poll. The application form for voting by post can be found at: http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/177408/Postal-vote-general.pdf
Voting by proxy and by post, however, does not need to be because of a disability, sensory impairment or any other medical issue but simply because it is the easiest method for you. If you are going to be away over the election period, at work or in education, or are unable to get to the polling station due to a caring responsibility then these methods can be used. Whichever of these three voting methods you, or the person you care for, decide on the important thing is to make sure your vote gets cast. Remember, if you are not registered to vote you will get turned away at the polling station and be unable to have your say in the future running of the country.
All the information provided here can be found on the following websites if you require any further information.