Vicky Spratt | Deputy Editor | Thursday, 5 May 2016

How Do I Vote? Here\'s Everything You Need To Know

How Do I Vote? Here's Everything You Need To Know

The Debrief: How do I vote? Where is my nearest polling station? Who should I vote for? Don't worry...we've got your back

Today’s the day. It’s the London mayoral election and local elections are being held across the country. In total 2,743 seats will be contested in 124 local elections across the country today. Scotland are choosing a new government and there’s an election in Wales across the whole Welsh Assembly.

You’ve got until 10pm this evening to cast your vote. It’s hard to believe in this day and age that the act of voting is still so old school – you need to take your piece of card to your local polling station, often a school or community centre where some very helpful retired people sit on plastic chairs and use a pen (!) to make your choice. Sounds simple right? Well you’d be surprised.

Let alone not being sure who to vote for, you might not know where your polling station is, you might have lost your polling card. Don’t let this put you off. We’ve got your back. You can still vote even if you’re not sure where you need to go by following our handy guide below. (NB there’s going to be another, national, vote at the end of June for the EU Referendum so this is doubly useful with that in mind too).

Why can’t I vote online?

Perhaps, one day, you’ll be able to. We use the internet for everything, we share our good news and bad news using it. You’d think if we can bank online without any major fraud taking place we’d be able to vote online. Alas, not so. Despite this, politicians are using the internet in an attempt to connect with younger voters.

They say that the don’t vote, however there was an increase in 18-34s voting at the General Election last year. Jeremy Corbyn took to Snapchat earlier in an attempt to encourage the youth to turnout today.

Facebook have a vote reminder which lets you know ‘it’s election day’ and allows you to let people know that you’ve voted. They say that this ‘I’m a Voter’ button was shared 3 million times during the General Election last year. Today my feed is awash with people who are posting about having been to vote, with others commenting beneath that this has reminded them to do so. Indeed, research has previously found that activity on the social networking site ahead of an election can actually increase voter turnout. So, perhaps online campaigning and online voting are the future…

How do I vote, then?

If you haven’t registered, then you’ve missed the boat for the local/mayoral election. You can still register for the EU referendum vote coming up on June 23rd until June 7th though by clicking on this link.

If you have registered and you didn’t opt for a postal vote or proxy vote (officially saying someone else can vote on your behalf) then you need to take your polling card to your local polling station. It should say on your polling card where that is.

What if I registered but didn’t receive a polling card? What if I don’t know where my polling station is?

You don’t need your polling card to vote. You can find out where your local polling station is if you’re a Londoner by entering your postcode here. If you live in another part of the country enter your postcode here.

What time can I vote?

Polling stations open at 7am and close at 10pm. If you arrive at before 10pm and there’s a queue you will still be allowed to vote.

What do I need to take with me to vote?

Nothing. Take your polling card if you got one but if not you just need to know your name and address…which, hopefully, is easy enough.

Who do I vote for?

In London there are 12 candidates for mayor. However, the main contest is between the favourites: Zac Goldsmith (Conservatives) and Sadiq Khan (Labour).

The full list of candidates is as follows:

Sian Berry (Green Party); David Furness (British National Party); George Galloway (Respect); Paul Golding (Britain First); Zac Goldsmith (Conservative); Lee Harris (Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol); Sadiq Khan (Labour); Ankit Love (One Love Party); Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrats); Sophie Walker (Women's Equality Party); Peter Whittle (UKIP); and Prince Zylinksi (Independent).

You can read about what happened when The Debrief sat down with Zac, Sadiq, Sian Berry, Caroline Pidgeon and Sophie Walker here.

What happens in the voting booth?

Londoners will be given three ballot papers in the polling booths. The BBC explains:

On the pink paper, voters choose their first and second preferences for mayor. If your first choice doesn’t win then your second choice will be counted.

Voters also have two ballot papers to choose the two types of London Assembly member.

The yellow ballot paper is used to choose the constituency member. Voters choose one candidate, who if elected will represent their area of London.

The orange ballot paper is used to choose one of the 11 additional London-wide assembly members, who represent the whole city.

Why does the London Mayor election matter?

You might say that the Mayor of London is the most important office in the UK which is directly elected. You vote for a party not for the Prime Minister but you vote directly for the Mayor of London. It’s also a big boost to whichever party the winner belongs to because they gain a high profile figure in office on the global stage.

Why do local elections matter?

Local elections don’t sound as sexy, sure. But they matter. Who sits on your local council affects the local community where you live.

It’s definitely tricky for younger generations, who are more likely to rent than own property and, as a result, move often. We might fall of lists or be registered at the wrong address. They say we don’t vote – they say we CBA and they call us apathetic. So let’s prove them wrong.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

 London Mayor: Who Should I Vote For?

Meet The Girls Who Couldn't Vote Today

Make Renting Fair: Why we're Calling For The End Of Letting Agents Fees

Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

Tags: Facebook et al, Politics