It’s official, Britain’s facing another general election — and it’s all going to be happening before Christmas.
MPs voted for a Dec. 12 election on Tuesday, and the legislation will now pass through the House of Lords where it’s reportedly very unlikely to be opposed.
So while the political parties now start ramping up their campaigns, it’s time for members of the public to make sure we’re registered to vote — to ensure that our voices are heard on all the issues we care about most.
You can take action with us here to encourage your friends to register to vote too.
Here’s what you need to know about how to get your vote.
Why does my vote matter?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of registering, let’s address the most important question: why should we vote?
Put simply, it’s the way for you to help shape the Britain you want. It might not always feel like it, but your vote has the power to make politicians act on the issues you care most about.
Across Britain, there are more than 9 million people who are eligible to vote but not correctly registered — meaning that they’re at risk of not being able to have a say in an election. Registering to vote is particularly an issue for young people, renters, low-income, and black and ethnic minority groups.
To put that in perspective, the Conservative Party got about 13.6 million votes in the 2017 general election; Labour got about 12.8 million; and the Liberal Democrats got about 2.3 million. Those 9 million eligible but unregistered voters literally have so much power to decide the result — so every vote counts.
Basically, register, go vote, have your say, help Britain create the future that you want.
Am I eligible to vote?
If you fit these criteria, then you’re able to vote in the general election:
- You’re a British, Irish, or qualifying Commonwealth citizen (you can find more details on this here).
- You’re resident at an address in the UK, or a British citizen living abroad who’s been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years.
- You're not legally excluded from voting.
- You’ll be 18 or over on the day of the election.
There’s been some debate raging in recent weeks about whether or not 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote, along with EU nationals with settled status.
Opposition parties had hoped to make amendments that would have made it possible, but the amendments were rejected on Tuesday.
Do I need to register to vote?
If you’ve already registered to vote at your current address, and haven’t changed your name, then no — you’re still good to go.
You’ll need to register again, however, if you’ve moved house since the last election or if you’ve changed your name or nationality.
You can also check whether you’re already registered to vote by getting in touch with your local Electoral Registration Office.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can contact the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland here.
How do I register?
The quickest and simplest way is to do it online, on the government’s voter registration page here. The whole process generally only takes about five minutes.
It’ll ask you for your National Insurance number, so have that to hand, although you can still register to vote if you don’t have one.
If you’re a British citizen living in another country and you want to vote in England, Scotland, or Wales, you’ll also need your passport. If you want to vote in Northern Ireland and you’re living overseas, there’s a separate elector registration form here.
There are also the options to register to vote by postal or proxy vote — but you do need to apply.
For a postal vote, you don’t need to give a reason for why you’re voting by post unless you’re voting in Northern Ireland. You can find out more information and apply for a postal vote here, or here if you live in Northern Ireland.
You can only apply for a proxy vote — which means asking someone to vote on your behalf — under certain circumstances. You can find out more and apply for a proxy vote here, or here if you live in Northern Ireland. There are different forms for different reasons for applying, so make sure you pick the right one.
What about if I’m a student?
You can register to vote at both your holiday-time and term-time addresses — depending on where you’ll be when the vote happens. Remember, however, that it’s illegal to vote more than once.
Having a vote on Dec. 12 means that it’s near to when university Christmas holidays begin. Think ahead and work out where you’ll be when the vote happens — if you’ll already have headed home but want to vote in your university constituency, for example, then you can apply for a postal vote.
What if I don’t have a fixed address?
You actually don’t need a fixed address to still be eligible to vote. You can find out more about registering to vote if you don’t have a permanent address here.
When do I have to register by?
Do your future self a favour and just do it now — it literally only takes a few minutes. If you’re a last-minute kind of person, however, the actual deadline to register to vote is midnight on Nov. 26.
I need some more help...
You can get help registering from your local Electoral Registration Office — find out how to get in touch here.
There’s also an easy-read government guide here about registering to vote, created to support people with learning disabilities.