How to register to vote at the General Election

polling station west leeds
Mickey the dog casting his vote in Kirkstall Ward back in 2019. Photo: Mindy Goose

There are few things the British love more than queuing, talking about the weather, and drinking cups of tea – and one of those things is an election! writes Mindy Goose.

And so as not to disappoint, on Thursday 12 December the country will be going to the polls, to vote for a member of parliament (MP), and potentially cho0se a new government.

Before you can vote however, you need to be registered, and here West Leeds Dispatch will take you through the steps and clear up any questions our readers may have.

Deadline for registering

The deadline for registering to vote in this General Election is by midnight on 26th November.

If you want to apply to vote by post (more about that later) then you must register before 5pm on 26th November. If you are away on Election Day, then you can apply to vote by proxy, but this must be done before 5pm on 4th December. More about proxy voting later.

So who can register?

If you are over 16 and a UK citizen, you can register to vote, but there are restrictions on who can vote in a General Election:

  • You will not be able to vote until you are over 18 on ‘polling day’
  • You must be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen – a full list of these countries can be found in a link at the bottom of the page.
  • You must be a resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the las 15 years)
  • You must not be legally excluded from voting, for example members of the House of Lords, convicted prisoners, anybody found guilty of electoral fraud within the past five years, and people with any “legal incapacity” that impairs their judgement.

Please note that EU citizens (other than British or Irish) cannot vote in a General Election.

What if I am a student?

Students can be registered at both addresses if they live away from home, so long as they are not in the same constituency (a constituency is the area the MP is elected).

They can only vote once though, as it is a criminal offence to vote twice in a general election. They may also apply for a postal or proxy vote – see below.

What if I have no fixed address?

You can still register to vote, even if you do not have a fixed address. If you don’t have a permanent address, you can register at an address where you spend a lot of your time or have some connection. This could be a previously permanent address, shelter or similar place.

You may not have a fixed address because you are:

  • A patient in a mental health hospital
  • Homeless
  • A merchant seaman
  • Part of the Gyspy or travelling community
  • Living on a boat or other movable residence
  • A person remanded in custody

More details can be found in the link at the bottom of the page

What if I need to register anonymously?

Your name and address will appear on the electoral register if you register to vote. If you think your name and address being on the electoral register could affect your safety, or the safety of someone in your household, you can register to vote anonymously.

More details of how to do this can be found by following the link at the bottom of the page.

If you have a learning disability

People with a learning disability have the same right to vote as everyone else. There is a step by step, easy read guide for registering to vote for people with a learning disability, the link to this can be found at the bottom of the page.

Ways of voting

  • In person at the polling station – this will be printed on the polling card that will be sent to you in the post. Voting is between 7am and 10pm, so there is plenty of time to get to the polling station on that day. Please note that you will not need a form of ID for this election.
  • By postal vote – Anyone can apply for a postal vote. You will be sent the polling papers to the address that you have supplied when registering. Follow the instructions on your ballot paper and post before Election Day, if they arrive after 5pm they will not be counted. Postal ballots can be posted from anywhere in the world, but be mindful of how long it will take to get there. If you feel that you have missed the deadline for sending your postal vote, you can take you postal pack to the your polling station or local authority on the day. The council may be able to collect your postal pack, please contact them directly. Details for both Leeds City Council and the Electoral Commission can be found in the links at the bottom of the page.
  • By proxy – if you are unable to vote in person, you may be able to apply for a proxy vote. This means a person you have nominated votes in your place, they must do this in person at your polling station.

Proxy voting in details

Reasons you may apply for a proxy vote:

  • You may be away on holiday or for work on the day of the election – this would be a one off proxy
  • More permanent reasons or long-term reasons may be:
    • You have a disability
    • You are away on an educational course
    • You are away for work
    • You are registered as an overseas voter
    • You work overseas for the British Council or as a Crown Servant
    • You are serving overseas in the Armed Forces

You can also apply for an emergency proxy vote, if for example you become disabled after the deadline or have to go away for work and did not know before the deadline, and you can apply before 5pm on polling day. 

Your proxy will receive a proxy polling card telling them when and where to vote for you. You can still vote in person, so long as they haven’t already done this for you.

More details about Proxy voting can be found in the links at the bottom of the page, there are PDF forms that can be printed off for individual circumstances. 

How to register

Follow the registration link.

It is a simple process, have ready your national insurance number. Once you have filled in all the boxes, the next screen will show your summary and give you the opportunity to change anything if you have made a mistake. Then just submit!

You can also download and print forms – these include large print forms (however they may not be suitable for users of assisted technology) – and send to:

Electoral Services, Level 2, Town Hall, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AD

Opting out of the Open Register

The open register is an extract of the electoral register that can be purchased in whole or in part by any person, company or organisation.

You have the right to opt out of the open register and remain on the electoral roll so that you can still vote and credit agencies can still find you, but your information will not be sold to a third party.

Useful Links

Registration link

Commonwealth and eligible countries

No fixed address

Registering anonymously


Leeds City Council Postal Votes

Postal Voting

Proxy voting

Easy Read guide

Print registration forms

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