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Background

Electoral Register and Voting

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 How to register to vote

On this page, you can find out about registering to vote in the United Kingdom.

What is the Electoral Register?

The Register of Electors lists everyone who is entitled to vote.  You can only vote in elections if your name is included in the Register.

The Electoral Registration Officer compiles and keeps two versions of the Register - the Full Register and the Open Register.

It is compiled between August and November each year with the new Register coming into force on December 1 and remaining in force until November 30 the following year.

To be included in the Register you must be:

  • resident at an address in Copeland for more than six months of the year, i.e. as a permanent resident
  • over 16 (although you cannot vote until your 18th birthday)
  • a British, Commonwealth or Irish Republic citizen
  • a citizen of a member state of the European Union (as such you can only vote in local elections and, upon application, European Parliamentary Elections)

Students living away from home during term time can register at both places but must only vote once at the same election.

Rolling registration

The Register is also updated monthly so if your name has been missed off the Register, or if you move during the year, you can apply to be registered at any time. This is called rolling registration.

Applications to be registered as an elector under the rolling registration process are subject to public inspection to allow any objections to be made.  At the end of this public inspection period, and if no objection is received, the applicant may be added to the Register of Electors on the first working day of the following month, depending on the date the application was received.

Please remember that paying Council Tax does not mean that you are automatically included on the Register of Electors.  You must register separately to be able to vote.

If you move house after the annual canvass, or during the year, you can change your registration.

Telling Council Tax or other council departments that you have moved will not change your entry on the Register of Electors.

There are two versions of the Register

The Register of Electors lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as detecting crime (eg fraud), calling people for jury service and checking credit applications.

Anyone can look at it, but copies can only be supplied to certain people and organisations and only for specified purposes. These include electoral purposes, the prevention and detection of crime, and checking a person's identity when applying for credit.

The law states who can have a copy of this Register and what it can be used for.  The full list of persons and purposes is given in the Representation of the People (England and Wales)(Amendment) Regulations 2002. It is a criminal offence for them to pass it on to anyone else or to use it for any other purpose.

What is the Open (Edited) Register?

The Open Register was previously known as the Edited Register.

The Open Register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it may be used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details.

Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed.

Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.

Please email elections@copeland.gov.uk to request removal of your details from the Open Register, giving your name, address and contact details.

You will receive an acknowledgement letter in due course. Your opt out choice will remain in force until you either move house, when you will need to re-register and provide your opt out choice once again, or until you decide that you would like your details included in the Open Register (ie opting back in).

Registering to vote

How do I register to vote?

You can now register to vote online

You will need to:

  • give your name, address, date of birth and a few other details
  • provide your National Insurance Number, which can be found on your National Insurance card, or in official paperwork such as payslips, or letters about benefits or tax credits

If you are unable to use the online registration service you can telephone our Electoral Services office who can register you online whilst you are on the phone, or we can send you a paper form.

Am I eligible to register to vote?

  • Everyone who is 18 year old or over, a British, Irish, Commonwealth or EU citizen, and living at an address in Copeland on a permanent basis can register to vote. 
  • If someone is 16 or 17 they may be entitled to be included in the Register of Electors so that they can vote as soon as they turn 18.
  • If someone owns, and pays council tax on, a property in the area which is mainly used for holidays and is not occupied for any length of time, they should not be registered for the property but should be registered to vote where they spend the most of their time.

Please remember that paying Council Tax does not mean that you are automatically included on the Register of Electors. You must register to vote separately to be able to vote.

Public servants posted overseas

There are separate registration services for public servants who are likely to be posted overseas:

Armed forces
Crown servants (eg diplomatic service, overseas civil service)
British Council employees

When will my name go on to the Register of Electors?

The register is compiled each year during the annual canvass which starts around August and ends in November.

The new register comes into force on December 1 each year and remains in force until November 30 the following year.

The register is also updated monthly so if your name has been missed off the register, or if you move during the year, you can apply to be registered at any time. This is called rolling registration.

Applications to be registered as an elector under the rolling registration process are subject to public inspection to allow any objections to be made.  At the end of this public inspection period, and if no objection is received, the applicant may be added to the Register of Electors on the first working day of the following month, depending on the date the application was received.

How to Vote

To vote at an election your name must be on the Register of Electors.

Shortly before an election you will be sent a polling card which will tell you:

  • the address of your polling station
  • date of the election
  • hours of polling
  • your elector number and address.

You do not need to take the poll card with you to be able to vote.

Vote in person

  • on arrival at your designated polling station, the Presiding Officer will ask you to confirm your name and address and will issue you with a ballot paper.
  • the ballot paper will be marked with an official stamp.
  • you should take the ballot paper to the voting booth and mark with a "X" the candidate(s) you wish to vote for.
  • fold the ballot paper and deposit it in the ballot box.

What if I am unable to get to the Polling Station on Election Day?

If you are unable to go to your Polling Station on Election Day, you can apply to vote by post or proxy (a proxy is someone who votes on your behalf).

Please contact the Electoral Registration Office who will be able to offer you further advice.

For specific information about deadlines for a particular election please visit the relevant Elections page.

Postal and proxy voting

Postal voting

You may apply for a postal vote at any time. It can be for a particular election, for a specific period of time or indefinitely, and is linked to your current registration address. Consequently, if you move house and still require a postal vote, you will need to re-apply.

Postal votes are usually issued about ten days before an election and completed ballot papers must be returned by 10pm on election day.

Therefore, if you have a permanent postal vote, and will be going away on holiday around the time the postal votes will be issued, you may not receive your postal vote pack before you leave.  Check the relevant dates on this year's Elections page.

You also need to check when postal votes are scheduled to be posted if you apply for a postal vote just for a particular election. If you are going on holiday you may leave home before your postal vote arrives.

Although postal votes can now be sent abroad it is not advisable as it can take too long to reach its destination and be completed and returned by election day.

If you are likely to be away when postal votes are sent out a proxy vote would be more suitable.

Postal voting security arrangements

As required by law, all postal vote applicants must supply their signature and date of birth in specific boxes on the application form.

These forms are now scanned and securely stored electronically so that when ballot papers are returned at election time the signatures and dates of birth supplied on the accompanying postal vote statement can be checked against those already held on the application.  This is to help eliminate postal vote fraud.

Postal vote application form

If you would like a postal vote application form please contact our Electoral Services team.  They will provide a personalised form which is also barcoded to assist processing when returned.

Forms can also be downloaded from https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/how-do-i-vote/voting-by-post

Proxy Voting

A proxy vote is where you appoint someone, a friend or member of your family perhaps, to go to your polling station and vote on your behalf.

All proxy vote applicants must supply their signature and date of birth in specific boxes on the application form.

To download the proxy vote you require, please visit https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/how-do-i-vote/voting-by-proxy

For specific information about deadlines for a particular election please visit the relevant Elections page.

 

Electoral Services

Copeland Borough Council

Tel: 01946 598300

Email: elections@copeland.gov.uk


Published: 28 January 2015 - 1:57pm