As election day gets closer, there may be some aspects of voting that you are unsure about. We’ve made this handy guide to make sure you know everything you need to. 

When do polling stations open and close?

Polling stations will open at 7am on election day and will close at 10pm. 

What happens if there is a queue and the polls close before I vote?

It is advisable to aim to cast your vote earlier in the day to make sure you don’t risk missing the polls, but as long as you are in the queue by 10pm, you are allowed to vote. 

What do I need to take with me? 

Under new guidance, you will need to take valid photo ID with you - this could be your driving licence, passport, or a PASS card. You can also use a Blue Badge, a biometric residence permit, a national identity card, a voter authority certificate, a defence identity card, an anonymous elector’s document, an older person’s bus pass or Oyster card, a freedom pass, or a disabled person’s bus pass. 

You do not need to take your polling card with you, but you can if you wish. 

Do I have to vote with an X?

The official guidance is to put a cross in the box beside the candidate you want to vote for - this will be explained on the top of the ballot. 

However, as long as it is clear that you have made a deliberate mark in the box next to one candidate, your vote will be counted. 

What if I don't know who I want to vote for - can I ask someone?

Political discussion is banned inside polling stations, so you cannot ask other people in the station about their opinions. Before you go to vote however, you are welcome to discuss the election with anybody, as long as it is not inside the polling station. You are also advised to research the candidates before casting your vote. 

Who are the people inside the polling station?

When you enter the polling station, there will be people inside marking who has voted and providing the ballots. These people are working for the Returning Officer from your local council. There’s usually one person in charge who is called the Presiding Officer, while the other people are called Poll Clerks.

Sometimes there are people outside polling stations asking me for my name and who I voted for - Who are they and do I have to tell them?

These people are called tellers, and they are volunteers who work for the political candidates. They use the information they gather to check who has voted so far. 

There may also be journalists outside your polling station asking who you have voted for. This is so that news teams can put together early predictions on what the results of the election may be. 

You are not obligated to answer anybody outside the polling station who asks your name, polling number, or who you have voted for. 

Is my vote private or public?

Your vote is private, but you are allowed to tell people how you voted once you are outside the polling station. 

What is a "spoiled" ballot, and what happens to it?

A spoiled ballot is a ballot which is invalid. This can be a ballot which has been written on, a ballot which has more than one candidate selected, a ballot which has been drawn on, or a ballot with identifying information. Some people choose to spoil their ballot in order to express their dissatisfaction with all candidates available to them (while still taking part in the democratic process). 

If a vote has been spoiled, vote counters will put them to one side while tallying the votes. After this, the spoiled ballots are shown to the candidates for them to agree that the ballot does not count as a vote towards their total. This is to avoid accusations of bias by those tallying the results.

The spoiled ballots are then sealed separately, so that the number of spoiled ballots is still counted and announced by the Returning Officer.

Can I take a selfie to show that I voted? 

You cannot take any photos inside the polling station, but you are allowed to take photos outside the venue, including next to the polling station sign. 

Can I take my dog?

The official guidance is that dogs, apart from assistance dogs, are not allowed inside polling stations. However, this can vary depending on your polling station. If you are planning to take your dog with you, you should check with the venue in advance. 

It is also advised not to leave your dog tied up outside of the polling station in case of theft. 

Many people do bring their dogs to the polling station with them, with the trend #dogsatpollingstations growing over the past few elections. No photos should be taken inside the polling station.

General Election 24

Don’t forget we will have all the results as they happen after the polls close on Thursday night and reaction to the big stories on Friday July 5.

General Election Tindle graphic logo
General Election 24 (Tindle)