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How do I vote if I’m on holiday on election day?



Calum Watson,BBC Scotland News

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Rishi Sunak’s decision to go to the polls on 4 July, in a month that traditionally sees an exodus of Scots for sunnier climes, has raised some eyebrows.

In most parts of Scotland schools will have broken up – and many canny holidaymakers will have booked overseas trips before the English school holidays see prices shoot up.

Many football fans will also be abroad for Euro 2024.

So how can you can exercise your right to vote if you’re not at home on polling day?

In short, you have two options – a postal vote or a proxy vote.

But before you get to that stage there’s an even more basic thing to check. Are you on the electoral register?

Registering to vote

You have to be on the electoral register to vote in any election or referendum.

The deadline for registering is by midnight on Tuesday 18 June.

For most people the easiest way to register or update your details is online.

It will take about five minutes. You will need your national insurance number – there’s advice on what to do if you have lost or can’t remember it.

You can also register to vote by post by downloading and printing a form or requesting one from your local electoral registration office.

During registration you can choose to opt out of the open register, which means information cannot be sold on to other people such as charities or businesses.

If you are worried about being on the register for personal safety reasons, you may be allowed to register anonymously.

For those without a permanent address – for instance through being homeless, on remand in prison or staying at a mental health facility – there are alternative ways of registering.

You can only vote in the UK general election if you are 18 or over on the day of the vote – although in Scotland you can prepare for future elections by registering from the age of 14.

Details of qualifying nationalities living in the UK can be found here.

If you have registered previously you should still be on the register but if you have changed your name, address or nationality you will have to update it.

You can contact you local electoral registration office to check if you’re already registered.

How do I get a postal vote?

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You can apply to cast your vote by post if you will be away on polling day or simply because you think it’s more convenient.

For a UK-wide general election the application can be made entirely online

The deadline for applications is 17:00 on Wednesday 19 June.

You need to be on the electoral register, and will be asked for your postcode, date of birth and national insurance number.

A sample of your signature is also required – you can take a photo and upload it.

There’s a different way of applying for a postal vote for Scottish Parliament and Scottish local elections using a form which you can download here.

After filling it out, you must send it to your local electoral registration office

If you want to apply at the same time for postal votes in both UK and Scottish elections, you have to use the paper form method.

Once you receive your postal vote, you should fill it out and return it as quickly as possible.

If you think it won’t arrive in time, you can take it to your local polling station and deliver it by hand before the polls close at 22:00 on polling day.

What is a proxy vote and how do I get one?

If you are unable to vote in person you can ask someone you trust to vote on your behalf. This is called a proxy vote.

You can only apply for a proxy vote if you are:

  • away on polling day
  • are registered as an overseas voter
  • have a medical issue or disability
  • cannot vote in person because of work or military service.

As with postal vote applications, you can apply online for the upcoming general election.

For Scottish elections you need to download a form and return it to your local electoral registration office.

The deadline for applications in Scotland is 17:00 on Wednesday 26 June.

If you miss the deadline, for instance due to a medical emergency or you have been called away at short notice by work, you can contact your local electoral registration office to see if you can get an emergency proxy vote.

You have until 17:00 on polling day itself to apply for an emergency proxy vote.

Will I need photo ID to vote in person?

PA Photo ID signPA

Some UK elections now require valid photo ID

Yes. You now need to show photo ID to vote in some UK elections such as the forthcoming general election

The types of photo ID that will be accepted at local polling places include:

  • UK or Northern Ireland photocard driving licence (full or provisional)
  • UK passport
  • Blue Badge
  • Scottish National Entitlement Card
  • A Young Scot Card with a PASS hologram

A full list of acceptable photo ID can be found here.

If the photo ID is out of date, it can still be used so long as the photo still looks like you.

If you do not already have accepted photo ID, your name has changed or you no longer look like the photo on the ID you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.

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