General election 2024: What you can and can't do in a polling station

A woman walks into a polling station
-Credit: (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Today is the day of the general election.

The country will go to the polls today (July 4) to elect their respective MPs. Polling stations across the country are open from 7am to 10pm.

Your polling station's address is written on your polling card, but you do not have to take your card with you. You do, however, have to bring photo ID as part of new laws.

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Below is advice on the Electoral Commission on what to expect inside the polling booth - and what you can and can't do.

There will be staff who are working for the Returning Officer from your local council. There’s usually one person in charge who is called the Presiding Officer, and a few other people called Poll Clerks.

  • tell the staff your name and address so they can check that you’re on the electoral register. They will ask to see your photo ID. The staff will cross your name off their list so they know who has voted, and hand you your ballot paper. A ballot paper is a list of your voting options on which you mark your decision

  • take your ballot paper into a polling booth. These are private areas designed so that no one else can see who you vote for. Make sure you give people plenty of space, so everyone can cast their vote in secret

  • mark ‘X’ next who you want to vote for on the ballot paper. You might be asked to vote for more than one person. Take your time to read everything. There will be instructions on the ballot paper and on posters in the polling station

  • fold your ballot paper and put it in the ballot box. This is a large, clearly labelled box in the polling station

  • leave the polling station – that’s it, you’ve cast your vote

At the end of the day, the ballot box will be taken away for the votes to be counted. Your vote will be kept safe and will always stay secret.

Things to remember

  • you might be voting in different elections on the same day. For example, there might be council elections and a UK Parliament election in your area on the same day. If this is the case, you’ll be given more than one ballot paper. Different elections work in different ways so it’s important that you understand how to fill in your ballot paper correctly. All ballot papers include clear instructions

  • if you make a mistake and need a new ballot paper, don't worry – just speak to the staff and they can give you a new ballot paper, as long as you haven't already put one in the ballot box

  • don’t write anything else on your ballot paper, or your vote may not be counted

  • there will be a pencil in the polling booth, but you can use your own pen or pencil if you prefer

  • taking photos inside a polling station is not allowed as you may accidentally reveal how you or someone else has voted. You can take as many photos and videos as you like outside the polling station and share these on social media. Remember to be respectful of other voters

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