On Campus, News

24th November 2019

A Guide to Voting

As you all may know, or will come to find out reading this article, the General Election is dawning upon us. Amongst watching debates, seeing all the campaigning and deciding on who to support if you haven’t already, there is one very essential thing left to do for us constituents. To vote. The deadline to register to vote is Tuesday 26th of November, and Election Day will be here soon after. But how do you register, how do you vote and what actually happens? Here is a brief guide to answer any of your queries on voting.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash


In order to be eligible to vote in any referendum or election, you must be on the electoral register (the register to see who has applied and been approved to vote). You can register to vote online or post a printed copy. In the application, you can also choose to have a postal vote or not. Your registration requires your National Insurance – if you’re not sure what yours is, click here, but you may still be able to register without it. The deadline to register for the upcoming election is 11:59 pm on Tuesday 26th November, and at 5pm on the same day for postal votes. 

You can register to vote if you are aged 16 or over (or 14 and over in Scotland) and a UK citizen (or an Irish, EU or Commonwealth citizen with a permanent UK address). You can vote when you’re 18 or over. If you live in Scotland, you can vote in Scottish Parliament and local elections when you’re 16. If you’re a student, you can register at both your university and home address but you can only vote once. See here to register and contact your local Registration Office to check if you are already on the electoral register. Also note that if you’re asked to register and do not do so, you could be fined.


There are three ways in which you can vote:


Firstly, you can vote in person at a polling station (usually hosted by public buildings, like a school or local hall). Any registered person will be sent a poll card in the post which states the location of the polling station where you must cast your vote. Polling stations will be open from 7am until 10pm on Election Day or ‘Polling Day’. Give your name and address to the staff inside the polling station when you arrive. They will give you a ballot paper containing a list of the people, parties or options you can vote for. You then follow the instruction notices found both in the polling booth (used to ensure anonymity and privacy) and on top of the ballot paper. 

Gov.uk also notes instructions for disabled voters. If you are disabled, your local Electoral Registration Office can tell you about:

  • Physical access – for example wheelchair ramps and disabled parking spaces.
  • Low-level polling booths.
  • Equipment for voters with a visual impairment.

Every polling station must provide at least one large print display version of the ballot paper and a special tactile voting device (TVD) to help people with sight loss.


The second way to vote is by postal vote. You can apply to vote by postal vote for either a single election on a specific date, a specific period if you want to vote in England, Scotland or Wales or permanently. When completing and sending your vote by post, you must follow the following instructions:

  • You must mark your vote on your ballot paper in secret
  • You must fill in the postal voting agreement
  • Use the envelopes provided to post your vote
  • Make sure you seal the envelope yourself.

Should you miss the time to post your ballot paper, you can take it to your local polling station by 10pm (unless in Northern Ireland), or Electoral Registration office before they close. 


The final way in which you can vote is by proxy. This means someone can vote on your behalf. But this must be under certain conditions – being away on Election Day, having a medical issue or disability or because of work or military service.

To do this, you must apply using a paper form which needs to be sent to your Local Registration Office. This must be done by 5pm on the 4th of December. As with postal votes, your proxy vote may last for a single election, a specific period or permanently. To be a proxy for someone, you must be registered to vote, must be allowed to vote in the type of election they are voting in and must cast your vote at the polling station on your poll card. 


The University of Liverpool Guild will be hosting a all-night live screening of the results of the General Election. At the event will be experts from the University’s Politics Department for explanations and commentary on what’s going on. Liverpool Guild Student Media will be covering it on campus too! Snacks will be provided as well as breakfast at the courtyard for the all-nighters! The screening will be held at the courtyard, Thursday 12th December at 12noon until Friday 13th December at 12noon. Make sure to add it to your calendar and enjoy the anticipation of joy and/or commiseration! 

For more information on voting, see the gov.uk site on registration, how to vote or contact your local Registration Office. Also see our article on how to make the most of your vote!

Feature Image Credit: Pexels