Do you know what 3 “P” stands for? It is the current voting structure which offers the citizens three different ways to express their own choice: voting in Person, by Post or by Proxy.
“Vote in person” represents the most classic way of voting and simply consists in going at the local polling station between 7 am and 10 pm and vote there in person. Every person whose name is on the electoral register will receive a poll card bearing the address of the polling station. There is no need to take it with you on the election day or to provide any proof of identity: you will be just asked your name and address. The electoral staff will provide you a ballot paper (two for European Citizens eligible to vote for the European and the local elections) where you’ll find the list of candidates and parties you can choose among. People with disability can contact in advance to ask for assistance their electoral registration office (ERO) at their local Council. In addition, people with visual impairment can request a special device enabling them to vote without any other support. You can find your ERO’s contact details at 020 7271 0500 or you can visit About My Vote site.
In the UK, elections are held on working weekdays (the 2014 European Parliamentary and UK Local Council Elections are taking place on Thursday the 22nd of May) and no legislation exists to allow employees to take time off work to vote. Therefore, voting by post can be an alternative. But remember: it requires planning! So be careful to comply with deadlines.
The first step is to complete a postal vote application form. You will find it online. Just print it, sign it and send it to your local ERO. The deadline for receiving a postal vote application is the 5pm of Wednesday the 7th of May 2014. If you vote by post, your signature is absolutely essential for the validity of your vote. So, don’t forget to sign your form.
About a week before the election day you’ll receive the ballot paper: mark it in secret and send it along with the postal voting statement. Make sure it arrives before 10pm on 22 May 2014 in order to have your vote counted.
Voting by proxy is another option for those people unable to go to the polling station on the 22nd of May 2014. Even in this case the procedure is quite simple but first you need to provide a reason for voting by proxy (such a reason could be illness, temporary absence from home, etc.)
The application form is available online. You only need to print it, sign it and to send it back to the local ERO.
The deadline for applying to vote by proxy is 5pm on Wednesday 14 May 2014 (it is always 6 working days before the election day). In case of medical emergency 6 days before the election day or after, you can apply to vote by emergency proxy. The person you choose to vote on your behalf must be eligible to vote in the specific type of election and she/he cannot be a proxy for more than two people at any one election.
The voting system is “easy peasy”, don’t you think? So, don’t lose your chance to vote! Keep in mind that the upcoming elections could be the last ones conducted under such a simply system. The UK Electoral Commission in its latest report suggests amendments, which, in order to “provide a more robust mechanism for verifying the identity of electors”, will probably make the electoral procedure more complicated.