When is the UK general election and how do I vote?

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Polling signs seen at a building at a cemetery in Stevenage used as a Polling Stations during UK Local Elections. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Everything you need to know about the UK's 2019 general election (Picture: Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

In case you hadn’t heard, the UK is having another general election.

We’re used to having them every five years but this will be the third general election since 2015.

The snap poll was confirmed on October 29, after MPs backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Early General Election Bill by 438 to 20.

What date is the general election?

The UK will go to the polls on Thursday, December 12.

Why are we having another general election?

Since becoming Prime Minister in July, Boris Johnson has been trying to get the UK out of the EU - as per his promises.

But without a majority in parliament, Mr Johnson’s efforts have been thwarted.

Following his latest failure to get his withdrawal agreement approved by parliament, the PM called a snap general election to take the country to the polls in December instead of in 2022.

He’s hoping that an early election will increase his number of Conservative MPs and make it easier for him to get his Brexit plans through.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the House of Commons in London, Britain October 30, 2019. ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Boris Johnson is hoping that a general election will help him get his Brexit plans though parliament (Picture: Reuters)

How does an election work in the UK?

In a UK general election, voters in each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies choose the MP in their area.

In each constituency, the candidate with the most votes wins the seat and becomes a Member of Parliament (MP).

When the results are in, the political party with more than half of the 326 MPs in the House of Commons - a majority - usually forms the government.

The system, dubbed First Past the Post, means the party that ends up taking control doesn’t necessarily have the backing of the biggest proportion of the vote.

If no one party gains a majority of MPs, parties can team up in a coalition to form a majority and take control together.

Ballots are tallied at a counting centre for the European Parliamentary election in Sunderland, Britain, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Heppell
How do elections work in the UK? (Picture: REUTERS/Scott Heppell)

How many MPs seats will be up for grabs?

In total, there are 650 seats up for grabs in the election, with current MPs fighting to retain their seat.

While some results may be seen to be a ‘done deal’ there are 56 that are most definitely up for grabs, with MPs in those seats announcing that they don’t plan to stand for re-election.

They include Tory grandee Ken Clarke, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd and former Speaker John Bercow.

Read more: Why are we having an early general election?

How do you know who is standing in your constituency?

To find out which constituency you’re in, you can check the Parliament website.

Once you know that, you can go about finding out who’s standing in that constituency.

Candidates will be made public after the deadline for nominations has passed - probably in mid-November.

They will be posted on your local authority website and no doubt you’ll receive some literature through your letter box telling you what their policies are and why you should vote for them.

House of Commons and Palace of Westminster next to Thames river in London.
Voters across the country will decide who sits in the House of Commons (Picture: Getty)

How do you vote in a general election?

First you’ll have to make sure you’re registered to vote.

If you’re eligible you can register online and can either vote in person, via post, or you can select a proxy to vote on your behalf.

You have to register to vote by midnight on November 26 if you want to have your say in this general election.

You can find all the official election information for your area on the Electoral Commission website.

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