Voting: Know Your Stuff, Know Your Rights!

Written by on November 3, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page

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A general election takes place approximately every five years, with the winning candidate becoming the MP (Member of Parliament) for that specific constituency. Coalition governments come into place when there is a combined majority of MPs through two or more parties. The current Prime Minister will decide when to call an election.

Can You Vote

Whenever you move to a new property, it is important that you contact the electoral register to inform them of the change. Contrary to popular belief, just because you are registered to pay council tax does not immediately entitle you to vote during an election. The council sends an electoral registration form each year between August and November, and the law requires that every household fill it in and return.
•Anyone aged under 18 can register to vote, but voting can only take place once you reach this age.
•British citizens can vote.
•An individual with the right to enter and remain in the UK is allowed to register. The Electoral Commission provides a full list of countries who allow the registration to vote.

Voting at Polling Stations

Several days before an election, the council will send everyone on the electoral register a voting card, which will include exactly when and where to vote. Polling stations are open to the public from 7.00 AM to 10.00 PM. There will be people to approach at the polling station. Supply your name and address, and they will give you a ballot paper and designate you to an area where you can cast your vote in private and post it in the ballot box.

Anyone aged under 18, or a non-UK resident, will be unable to vote. A popular option for many people is to vote by post. When you apply for a postal vote, you will be asked to provide your signature and date of birth.

A proxy vote is asking someone to vote on your behalf. If you are unable to vote, due to a disability or other circumstances, you will have to fill in an application and have it signed by a doctor or tutor, who will confirm the reason why you cannot vote on the day.

Voting From Abroad

Fortunately, if you are a UK resident, you can register to be an overseas voter. After moving abroad, UK residents have the power to vote for up to 15-years. Grab a registration form from “About My Vote,” then send it to the electoral registration department where you were previously registered to vote. Alternatively, you can request an overseas voter registration form from the electoral registration office, but it will require you to have a witness sign the declaration.

Members of the armed forces can register as a service voter, and so too can their partner. However, the service declaration requires renewing every three years.

Full and Edited Registers

The full electoral register is used for elections, to detect and prevent crime, and to check credit and loan applications, while the edited electoral register contains personal details that are sold on and used by commercial companies. When you register to vote, you can also state whether you wish to be included on the edited register.

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While a general election requires that votes be entered into a ballot box, your workplace may allow suggestions, which can be posted in a comment box.

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