The next UK General Election will take place on Thursday 12th December 2019. Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.
As this is a winter election, many of us may feel uncomfortable with getting to the polling stations. In addition, London Vision and Thomas Pocklington Trust have recently published statistics showing that 74% of blind and partially sighted people said they felt either partially or totally unable to vote in secret and without assistance. More than half found polling stations inaccessible, preferring to vote by post or feeling unable to vote at all.
Before you vote, here is everything you need to know.
How to register to vote
You must register by 11:59pm on Tuesday 26th November, or 5pm if you’re registering for a postal vote.
Registration takes just five minutes – simply head to the Gov.uk website. You’ll need to know your National Insurance number. The website also offers a “get help” guide. You can use this to speak to your local electoral registration office (simply enter your postcode) or you can download a guide for voting with learning difficulties.
If you’re not sure if you’re registered, you can check via your local council.
How to vote
After you have registered, you can vote in one of three ways:
- At a polling station
- By post
- By proxy (asking somebody to vote on your behalf)
Voting at the polling station – accessibility
By law, every polling station must offer a tactile voting device and large print ballot papers. All volunteers must know how to use these.
A tactile voting device has sticky backing that can be placed on top of your ballot paper. There are numbered lift up flaps, with each number in braille corresponding to an individual political party. Simply lift the flap and mark an X.
You are entitled to ask for help at the polling station, from a staff member or a companion. They can guide you to the ballot box or even vote on your behalf, providing they are legally allowed to vote. They can also read out the list of candidates to you.
Voting by post
When you register to vote by post, you can request assistance such as a tactile voting device or large print ballot form. You’ll receive your ballot paper around 10 days before the election. We’d advise posting a few days in advance of the election, as it needs to be with your local council by 10pm on voting day. Alternatively, you can ask your local council to pick up your ballot paper.
Voting by proxy
You need to register for a proxy vote six working days before the election. You’ll have to fill out an online form explaining why you cannot attend a polling station. You will not need evidence if you’re registered blind.
This form will let you designate your chosen voter, which can be anybody as long as they are legally registered. The voter needs to return the vote to your local authority.
For more information, please contact our Information and Advice Line on 0800 132 320, text 07950 008870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org