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Voting FAQs

If your name is on the electoral register and you are 18 or over, then you should receive a poll card before the election. The poll card will give you information about the date of the election, the hours of poll and the name of your polling station. Your poll card is for information only so don't worry if you lose it or forget it, you can still vote without it.

Find your polling station

When you get to your polling station, the clerk will confirm your name and address, check your name is on the register and then give you a ballot paper.

The ballot paper will say how many candidates you can vote for. Take the ballot paper into a polling booth and put a cross [X] in the box next to the name of the candidate(s) you want to vote for.

Do not write anything else on your ballot paper or your vote won't be counted. Once you have voted you must fold the ballot paper to hide your vote and then put it in the ballot box. If there is more than one election happening on the same day (e.g. a parish and district election) then you may have more than one ballot paper to complete. If this is the case, these ballot papers will go in separate boxes.

Whichever way you currently vote, you can change to one of the following voting methods by completing our online form below:

  • vote in person
  • vote by proxy - if you are unable to get to the polling station, you can appoint someone you trust to vote on your behalf.
  • by postal vote

However, if you would like to change from voting in person to voting by post or by proxy, we will need to send you an application form to complete. This is because we cannot change these voting arrangements without your signature. You must sign and return the form so that we can process and complete your request.

Apply to change your voting method

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No - to vote in elections and referendums you have to be 18 or over. You must also be:

  • A British citizen; or

  • A citizen of another Commonwealth country; or

  • A citizen of a British Overseas Territory; or

  • A citizen of the Republic of Ireland; or

  • For certain elections (excluding UK Parliamentary Elections), a citizen of another European Union country

Your name must be on the register of electors, otherwise, even if you meet the above criteria, you will not be able to vote.

If you are a British citizen living abroad you can vote in UK Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections, but not in local elections or elections to devolved bodies such as the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales or Greater London Authority. Register to vote on the website.

If you have been living abroad for more than 15 years you are not eligible to register to vote in UK elections.

As an overseas elector you will need to apply to vote by proxy (where you appoint someone in the UK to vote on your behalf) or by post. You can do this by completing a Proxy Vote Application or a Postal Vote Application form.

Important: Please note that we strongly advise that you appoint a proxy rather than electing to vote by post - as, depending on the postal service to and from your country of residence, there may not be time for you to complete and return your ballot papers.

If you appoint a proxy, they will be able to vote at the polling station for your previous Lewes District or Eastbourne Borough address.

If you are in one of the following categories then you can be on the electoral register by applying online.

  • HM Forces service voters (and their spouses or civil partners)

  • Crown servants and British Council employees (and their spouses or civil partners)

  • Patients in mental hospitals whose stay at the hospital is sufficient for them to be regarded as resident there

  • Remand prisoners whose stay at a penal institution is sufficient for them to be regarded as resident there

People living in the UK who have no permanent or fixed address who can register by means of a 'declaration of local connection' - please note, this category cannot register online, to register please request a paper form from our offices.

Postal voting

Anyone can apply for a postal vote for all elections, or for a particular election - you do not need to give a reason. To apply please contact us to request a Postal Vote Application form and return it to us at the relevant address at the bottom of the page.

The last time for the receipt of applications for postal votes is 5pm 11 working days before the day of the election.

Please be aware that the postal votes cannot be sent until after the nomination process has closed and ballot papers have been printed. Therefore we do not anticipate postal votes arriving more than 6 working days before polling day.

Proxy voting

A proxy is somebody who goes to your polling station and votes on your behalf. If you choose to vote by proxy for a particular election then you are required to give a reason why you want a proxy vote e.g. illness, disability, living overseas, employment, holiday etc. If you want to vote by proxy at all elections then you will need to give a reason and get someone to support your application - the people who can do this are shown on the form.

People who are appointed as proxies must:    

  • themselves be eligible to vote at that particular election 
  • only be a proxy for a maximum of two people (unless they are related to them)

The last time for the receipt of applications for proxy votes is 5pm 6 working days before the day of the election.

Emergency Proxy Voting

It is now possible to apply for what is called an emergency proxy after the deadline for proxy applications has already passed, this can be for either of the following reasons:


If you suffer a medical emergency which means you are unable to get to your polling station then you can apply to appoint an emergency proxy by completing an Application to Vote by Emergency Proxy. You will need a supporting signature from a medical practitioner, social worker or similar to confirm you circumstances. The list of people who can support your application can be found on the form. Your completed form must be with us by 5pm on polling day.


If you, after the deadline for standard proxy applications, become unable to attend the polling station in person for reasons relating to your occupation, service or employment then you can appoint a proxy by completing the Application to Vote by Emergency Proxy. If you are self-employed you will need a supporting signature from a person 18 or over who knows you, this person cannot be your spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild.

If you are employed you will need a supporting signature from your employer or an authorised person at your workplace. If you are a member of HM Forces, a Crown Servant or British Council Employee, or a spouse or civil partner, and registered as a service voter you do not need to support your application.

No - you can still vote without it. Your poll card is for information only. It does make it easier if you take it to the polling station and show it to the clerk, but they will still be able to confirm you are on the register and issue your ballot paper to you without it.

Yes - you will need to apply for a proxy or postal vote. You must do this as soon as possible as we cannot accept postal vote applications received after 5pm 11 working days before the election or proxy vote applications received after 5pm 6 working days before polling day.

Important: Please note that we strongly advise that you appoint a proxy rather than electing to vote by post - statutory electoral timetables dictate when we can begin sending postal votes, so depending on when you leave for your holiday and the postal service we cannot make any guarantee that your postal vote will arrive in time for your departure.

It is a legal requirement that poll numbers are written on a numbered list. The procedure exists to detect and prove any possible abuses or fraud. At the end of the poll, the lists are sealed in a secure packet. The packet containing the numbered list is not opened at the count. At the end of the count the counted ballot papers are also sealed in a secure packet.

After the election the sealed packets are held securely. The sealed packets can only be opened by an order from the High Court or County Court provided that the Court is satisfied that an order is needed to help prosecute for an election offence.

The procedure is there to protect the integrity of the democratic process and not to undermine it.

These people are called tellers and are used by political parties to help with their election campaigns. They have no standing in electoral law and are not connected with the official election process. You don't have to give them your poll number if you don't want to.

Yes - each polling station will have one booth that is wider and has a lower writing shelf designed for voters using a wheelchair. If a polling station has alternative access for wheelchair users this will be signposted.

For voters with sight difficulties there is a large version of the ballot paper available to read, although the ballot paper issued will be the same for everyone. A tactile device with both raised and Braille numbers which can be attached to the ballot paper is also available at each polling station.

If you would like to know whether disabled car parking and toilet facilities are available at your polling station, and what if any, accessibility issues you might encounter please contact us.

The Presiding Officer or a voter's companion can assist a voter with disabilities. Anyone who helps a voter in this way must be an eligible elector and will be required to complete a declaration at the polling station. Alternatively, you can apply for a postal vote or appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf.

If you make a mistake on your ballot paper show it to the clerk at the polling station and ask for another one - do not put the spoilt paper in the ballot box. The clerk will issue you with a new paper and put your spoilt paper in a sealed envelope.

Immediately after voting has finished, the ballot box is sealed by the staff to ensure that nothing can be added to or taken from the box.

The box is taken to the count centre where the contents are counted with the ballot papers from other polling stations and the postal votes.

The candidate who receives the most votes is declared the winner and is elected to the position contested. Where more than one vacancy is being contested, there will be more than one winner - for example in a two-member ward the candidates with the most and the second most votes will be elected.

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