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Voting in person, by post, or by proxy

How to vote at a polling station

When you have registered to vote, you can vote in person at a polling station.

Before an election, you will be sent a poll card. This will tell you where your polling station is.

Polling stations are often churches, community halls and schools. However, they can be all sorts of places. Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm. It can be useful to take your polling card with you.

When you arrive, you will be asked to give your name and address and show photographic ID. Your poll card includes the list of the ID that you can use and more information is on our voter ID webpage.

You will then be given a ballot paper. This is a form that shows who you can vote for. Different elections have different rules about how many people you can vote for. This will be explained at the top of the ballot paper.

The people working at the polling station will be wearing "Here to Help" badges and can help you to read and understand the ballot paper. They can also help you fill in your ballot paper.

You can also take someone with you to help you vote. This could be a friend or support worker and they can also help you fill in your ballot paper.

All our polling stations are wheelchair accessible and our staff have been trained to provide additional support needed.

Voting by post

You can also apply to vote by post rather than going to a polling station. If you choose to vote by post, you do not require photographic identification.

You need to have applied for a postal vote at least 11 working days before an election.

If you need help applying for a postal vote please contact our Election Helpline on 01642 526196 or email electoral@stockton.gov.uk.

If you have applied to vote by post, you will receive a ballot paper in the post about two weeks before the election together with a form asking for your signature and your date of birth.

You will need to post both of these back in the envelope provided or take the envelope to your local polling station for the local election on 2 May 2024.

Apply for a postal vote

We can help with your postal vote application

You can also apply for a postal vote by contacting the Election Helpline on 01642 526196 or emailing electoral@stockton.gov.uk.

Limits on handing in postal votes

A person will not be permitted to hand in more than five postal ballot packs for other electors plus their own. This applies to postal ballot packs handed in at a polling station or at the Council office on Church Road.

If a person hands in more than five postal ballot packs for other electors, all the postal votes other than their own will be rejected.

If there is reason to suspect that a person has already handed in the maximum number of postal votes on any previous occasion at the election, any subsequent postal votes handed in will be rejected.

Anyone handing in postal votes will need to complete a 'return of postal voting documents' form. If the form is not completed, the postal vote or votes will be rejected. The best way to avoid this is to send your postal vote early so you don't miss the post.

Postal votes will be rejected if they are posted through the Council's letterbox or left behind at a polling station or Council Offices.

Political campaigners

Political campaigners will be banned from handling postal votes, except where the postal vote is their own, that of a close family member , or someone they provide regular care for.

A political campaigner is defined in legislation as:

a) a candidate at the election

b) an election agent of a candidate at the election

c) a sub-agent of an election agent at the election

d) employed or engaged for the purposes of that person's activities as a candidate

e) a member of a registered political party and carries on an activity designed to promote a particular outcome at the election

f) employed or engaged by a registered political party in connection with the party's political activities

g) employed or engaged by a person within paragraphs (a) to (f) to carry on an activity designed to promote a particular outcome at the election

h) employed or engaged by a person within paragraph (g) to carry on an activity designed to promote a particular outcome at the election

Voting by proxy

If you do not wish or are unable to get to a polling station to vote, you can appoint someone you trust to go to your polling station to vote for you. This is called voting by proxy. If you choose to vote by proxy, the person attending the polling station will need their own photographic ID (whether this is you or someone on your behalf). Please check our Voter ID page for a list of eligible photographic ID.

Unlike postal voting, you do need to give a reason for your proxy vote. Explaining you find it difficult to get to the polling station because of your sight loss, working away or another disability should suffice.

You'll need to register to vote by proxy at least six working days before the election.

There are different application forms depending on your reason for requesting a proxy vote. Once completed, send your form back to the electoral registration office. Unless you are registered as blind you will need someone to support your application, for example a GP or social worker, if you are applying to have a proxy vote for more than one election.

Apply for a proxy vote

We can help with your proxy vote application

You can also apply for a proxy vote by contacting the Election Helpline on 01642 526196 or emailing electoral@stockton.gov.uk.

Other help

To help everyone to vote, all polling stations will have:

  • chairs or seating for rest and reflection
  • ramps where necessary for wheelchair access or for voters having difficulty using steps
  • low-level polling booths for wheelchair access
  • signage for any alternative disabled access
  • doorbells for any doors that are required to remain shut
  • where parking is available at the venue, space will be reserved for voters with disabilities
  • where venues have hearing loops, these will be available
  • notices inside and outside of the polling station giving instructions on how to vote at the election
  • a notice in each polling booth giving information on how to mark the ballot paper with your choice
  • large print copies of ballot paper(s) including a sample copy for you to take into the polling booth for reference
  • magnifiers
  • tactile voting devices to help you identify the space on the ballot paper to mark your vote(s)  
  • pencil grips

You will be able to see sample ballot papers for the Borough and Parish elections nearer to election day.

MENCAP voting guide

MENCAP has developed an easy to read guide and video about voting and registering to vote.

In addition to the guide, there is now a requirement to vote with voter ID. Please visit our voter ID webpage for more information about voter ID.

Read the MENCAP easy to read guide to voting.

MENCAP videos share the experience of Charlotte and Harry of voting in a polling with a learning disability.

Watch the video of Charlotte's voting experience (YouTube video).

Watch the video of Harry's voting experience (YouTube video).

The RNIB video below shares the experience of Hugh of voting in a polling station with sight loss.

Watch the video of Hugh's voting experience (YouTube video).