Can I take children or pets to a polling station?

4 minutes, 14 seconds Read
A person walking into a polling station

The UK general election is taking place on Thursday 4 July.

What can and can't you do in the polling station when voting in person?

Do I need my polling card to vote and can I vote in any polling station?

If you are registered to vote, you will be sent a polling card with your polling number and polling station details.

You do not need to take the polling card with you but it might speed up the process.

You do have to take valid photo ID.

You can only vote at your local polling station, which might not be the same as in previous elections.

You can also find your local polling station online, external.

Polling stations are open between 0700 BST and 2200. You can vote as long as you are in the queue before 22:00.

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Who can I vote for in my area?

To provide you with your polling station the BBC sends your data to the Electoral Commission. Opens in a new browser tab Data privacy notice

Enter your postcode to find out

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Can I use my own pen or pencil?

Writing implements are provided but you can bring your own if you wish.

Can I take a selfie?

You are not allowed to take photos inside a polling station because the Electoral Commission – which oversees UK elections – says it risks the secrecy of the ballot.

The punishment for revealing how someone else voted – even accidentally – is a fine of up to £5,000, or six months in prison.

People are welcome to take photos outside.

A person takes a selfie at a polling station in London in 2019Image source, Getty Images

Can I tell my social media followers how I voted?

You can, but voters are advised not to update their social media accounts inside the polling station.

The rules for postal voting are different, so voters can share photos of their own postal ballot paper on social media if they wish.

Can I bring my pet?

Animals, apart from assistance dogs, are not usually allowed in polling stations., external

However, other dogs can be admitted at the discretion of the local authority.

Dogs waiting outside a polling stationImage source, Getty Images

Can I wear political clothing?

The Electoral Commission says there is nothing in law to prevent someone wearing a political slogan when going into a polling station to vote.

However, they should leave immediately afterwards, as campaigning inside polling stations is not allowed.

Can I discuss the candidates?

Political discussion is banned inside polling stations.

Staff will intervene if they hear any references to candidates or parties.

Can I take my children with me to vote?

Bringing children to the polling station is encouraged, to help educate them about democracy.

But children are not allowed to mark your vote on the ballot paper.

Children on scooters outside polling stationImage source, Getty Images

Can I vote if I've been drinking?

People who have been drinking or are drunk can vote, unless they are disruptive.

Can I have help if I am disabled?

Polling station staff can help you, or you can bring someone with you.

In England, anyone over the age of 18 can help you cast your vote. They do not need to be eligible to vote in that election.

Polling stations should have large-print sample ballot papers and tactile voting devices to help people with visual impairments.

You can take your phone into the polling booth to use magnifier or text-to-speech apps, or the phone torch to improve lighting. But you must not take any photos inside the polling station.

Do I have to vote?

Voting in UK elections is not compulsory. It is entirely up to you whether or not to vote.

Can I spoil my ballot paper?

Some people deliberately spoil their vote – for example, by writing a message on the ballot paper as a protest.

These are recorded, but do not count for or against any candidate.

If you sign your ballot and your name is identifiable, the vote does not count.

Do I have to give my details to 'tellers' outside the polling station?

Sometimes "tellers" stand outside the polling station and ask voters for the number on their polling card.

They are volunteers who work for candidates. They use the information to check who has voted, so they can remind people who have not yet done so.

They are allowed to ask for your polling card number, but you do not have to give it to them.


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