It's official: we're heading into yet another general election. It's only been two and a half years since the last one, where Theresa May gambled her majority and lost but somehow managed to stay in Downing Street. Now it's Boris' turn to try and win back seats in parliament, because that's probably the only way he's ever going to manage to get his Brexit deal through the door.
We encourage everyone to vote, regardless of whether they support an actual party or Lord Buckethead. You've got a week left to register, and here's how to do it if you're not already.
When do you have to register by?
If you want to vote in this general election, you need to be registered before 26th November. That gives you one week to sort yourself out.
Who is Eligible?
Despite some talk that some parties were lobbying for 16 year olds and EU citizens to vote, that doesn't seem to be the case. So if you want to vote in this general election you need to 18 or over on 12th December, and a citizen of Britain, Ireland, or certain Commonwealth countries.
You also need to be a resident at a UK address, or if you're a British citizen living abroad you have to have been registered to vote in the UK for 15 years. Naturally some people are legally excluded from voting and they can't have their say.
How to Check if You're Registered
Chances are if you voted in any of the last few elections (local, general or European), you'll still be registered at that address. If you've been there long enough you'll probably have received letters from the local council asking you to confirm who's registered as well, though if you ignored them they probably sent someone round to ask you in person. Or at least that's what my council does.
If you haven't opted out of the open register, you can check that with your local council and see if you're on there. That will require you to go down to a specific office for an appointment, though, which is a huge pain. The electoral commission will point you in the right direction, if you have your postcode handy. People in Northern Ireland have to use a different service, though, which you can access here.
If you don't want to do that, and you're still not sure, you can always just re-register. Doing this also means you can update your information or opt in and out of the open register.
How to Register
Registration can all be done online, and you just need to head over to the Gov.UK website to get yourself sorted. Just make sure you have the following details on hand:
- Your full name
- Date of birth
- National Insurance number
- Address and postcode
The form will also give you the option of applying for a postal vote, meaning you don't necessarily have to hit the polls on election day. If you don't want to re-register, you can fill out one of these forms instead. Northern Irish voters can head over here for their postal vote form.
Once the form has been completed you'll get a message that says you should hear from your local council within 10 working days.
Students can register to vote at their home and university addresses without issue, though the law says you can't vote in any election more than once. So don't try it, because you probably won't get away with it.
People who don't have a fixed address can register too, but there are extra forms to fill in which can be found here.
If you have reason to avoid being visible on the electoral register, you can ask to be registered anonymously. The catch is that you need to explain and prove that you, or someone in your household, would be at risk if your details are on the electoral register.
The application forms can be found over on the Electoral Commission website, and you will need to provide approved court documents, and have an authorised person sign off to confirm that you may be at risk if you're not kept anonymous.
Voting by Proxy
If you can't make it to the polls on the day of the election, and you don't want to do a postal vote, you can also apply to vote by proxy. In this case you can have someone over the age of 18 vote in your place, provided they're not a proxy for more than two people already - though there are exceptions for close relatives.
Valid reasons include:
- Being away
- You can't get out of work to vote
- You'll be attending a course
- You're disabled
- You're living overseas
- You're overseas in the armed forces or as a crown servant
Unfortunately you can't do this online, but there are physical forms you can send in depending on what your reasoning is. All of them are available to download from the Electoral Commission. Like the postal vote, Northern Ireland has different forms.
You need to get these forms in by 5th December, unless you;re in Northern Ireland in which case it's 14 working days before the election (21st November).
You should get a polling card in the post that will tell you where your local polling station is, if you don't know already, and all you need to do is turn up on the 12th December.
You don't need the polling card, ID, or anything else, because that's not how things are done. Get your slip of paper and then vote for the prospective MP you want to vote for.