Common elections FAQs

This page contains frequently asked questions regarding elections and referendums. 

accordion | Common Elections FAQs

Why do I need to register?

You need to be on the electoral register to vote in all UK elections and referendums. You are not automatically registered even if you pay council tax.

If you receive a request for your registration information then you are legally obliged to respond. If you do not respond you could face a fine of up to £1,000.

It is an offence to knowingly give false information and you could face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or up to six months in prison. If you do not make an application for registration when required to do so, you could face a fine of £80.

Some people also register to vote because they want to apply for credit. This is because credit reference agencies use the register to confirm where someone lives when they apply for credit in order to counteract fraud.

Can I cancel my postal or proxy vote?

Yes but all cancellation requests must be sent in writing to:


Electoral Services  

Council Offices

Kesteven Street


NG34 7EF

or emailed to:


Requests to cancel your postal vote can be made at any time unless the election timetable has started and then the request must be made and received by the specified deadline (11 working days before polling day) which will be printed on your poll card. If you decide you would like to vote by post or proxy again at a later date please contact Customer Services for a new application form on 01529 414155.

Can I apply to register to vote without having to complete and return a paper form?

Yes, you can register to vote online any time. You will need to provide specific information including current and previous address, national insurance number, date of birth and nationality.

I pay Council Tax - am I automatically registered to vote?

No - the two are completely separate and paying Council Tax does not mean that your details have been added to the Electoral Register. Visit our Register to vote page for details on how to register.

I'm a student and I'm not sure where I should register to vote?

Students may be entitled to register at both their home address and their university address, but must  only vote once in any national election, as it is an offence to vote more than once. For example, you may be registered in two different parliamentary constituencies but you can only vote once as they are both electing to the same body. The final decision on a registration rests with the Electoral Registration Officer with whom you are trying to register. Please contact us for further information.

What do I do if I move home?

If you have either registered online or completed and returned an individual electoral registration form since you moved to your new home, you do not need to register again. If you have not, you need to register to vote at your new address. You can register to vote online any time.

I am in the Armed Forces living in the UK – can I register to vote?

Service personnel and their husbands, wives or civil partners have the option of making a service declaration or can register to vote as an ordinary voter either online or by requesting a voter registration form. The way you choose to register to vote is up to you and will depend on your personal circumstances.

  • If you are based in the UK and unlikely to be posted overseas in the next year, you can register as an Ordinary Voter - You can register to vote online any time
  • If you are based overseas or expect to be posted abroad in the next year, it makes sense to register as a Service Voter. A Service Voter Registration will last for five years. Register as an Armed Forces Voter.

How do I know if I am registered as a postal or proxy voter?

If you are registered as a postal or proxy voter this information will be shown on the poll card which will be sent at the time of an election. Please contact Electoral Services on 01529 308352 if you wish to check at any other time. 

How will I know if there is an election coming up in my area?

If you are registered to vote, we will send you a poll card telling you when an election is happening and where and when you need to vote. You can also check details of forthcoming elections.

I have made a mistake on my postal vote – can I have a replacement?

For ‘spoilt’ postal vote packs (where you have made a mistake that cannot be rectified) then all documents need to be returned in person to the Council Offices in Sleaford so that replacements can be issued. Electors may be asked to sign for replacements. Please contact Electoral Services on 01529 308352 for further information.

I have moved but not yet registered at my new address. Can I still vote?

Providing you have not missed the deadline to register to vote for an election you can register to vote online or by phoning 01529 414155 to either make an application, or to request a paper registration form. If the deadline for an election has passed and you still are on the Electoral Register at your previous address you may go and vote at your previous polling station. Please contact Electoral Services for further information on 01529 308352 or contact your local electoral registration office if your previous address is within another Council’s area.

I have put my ballot paper and/or postal vote identifier in the wrong envelope – can I have a replacement?

Please unseal the envelopes and put the correct document in the correct envelope. Reseal the envelopes and initial them.

If you have already posted the pack back, contact Electoral Services on 01529 308352 for further information.

I haven’t received my poll card – can I still vote?

You do not need your poll card in order to vote, providing you are on the electoral register. If you wish to check that you are registered please contact Electoral Services on 01529 308352 or by email to

I haven’t received my postal vote – can I have a replacement?

For ‘lost’ postal vote packs (where you have not received your postal vote pack) replacements can be provided, but only from 5 working days before an election. You will need to provide documentation to verify your identity/address so that a replacement can be provided and may need to visit the Council Offices in Sleaford to collect it. You may be asked to sign for replacements. Please contact Electoral Services on 01529 308352 for further information.

If you are not a resident of North Kesteven, please contact your local electoral registration office.

I would like to work at the election – what do I need to do?

Please contact Human Resources for an application form on 01529 414155.

Is electronic counting used?

No, all elections held within the North Kesteven District Council area are counted by hand by appointed counting staff. 

The Council have not sent me any information on the candidates

It is the responsibility of each individual candidate to provide information and/or documentation to the electorate. The Council does not have or send out this information.

There is no single source of candidate information for local elections, so you should visit candidate websites, party websites, or approach them in any other way.

A list of candidates will be available to view from the relevant election webpage. Your can select an election from our forthcoming elections webpage.

What do I do when I go to the Polling Station?

First, you need to remember to take your photo ID with you to the polling station. 

On arrival the poll clerk will ask for your name and address and check your details on the Electoral Register. The clerk will then need to check your photo ID. For a list of accepted types of photo ID please see the Voter ID at elections page

Next, the clerk will give you a ballot paper, for each election that you are eligible to vote for, at the polling station. When you are given your ballot paper(s), go to one of the polling booths. 

The ballot paper(s) tells you how many candidates you may vote for. Do not vote for more than that number. Mark a cross (X) in the box on the right-hand side of the ballot paper(s) opposite the name(s) of the party or individual candidate(s) you are voting for. You can use either pen or pencil to mark your ballot paper. 

Do not put any other mark on the ballot paper(s), or your vote(s) may not be counted. If you spoil your ballot paper(s) by mistake, show the Presiding Officer and ask for a replacement. You can only get a replacement vote if you have not put your ballot paper in the ballot box.

Once you’ve finished voting fold the ballot paper(s) in half so your vote is not visible. Show the Presiding Officer the number and other unique identifying mark on the ballot paper(s), but do not let anyone see your vote.

Put the ballot paper(s) in the ballot box and leave the polling station.

If you have any questions or need any help please ask the polling station staff. 

What shall I do if I receive a poll card or postal vote pack for someone who does not live at my address?

If you are a resident of North Kesteven and receive a poll card or a postal vote for someone who does not live at your address, please put this back in the post marked ‘Not at this address’ if possible. Electoral Services will then be able to start a deletion process for the elector but please be aware that this can sometimes take a while to complete. If you are unable to return the item please contact Electoral Services on 01529 308352.

If you are not a resident of North Kesteven, please contact your local electoral registration office.

What happens if someone tries to vote in place of someone else?

This could be electoral fraud. Electoral fraud is taken extremely seriously by everyone involved in the democratic process.

When are polling stations open?

All polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm. People need to make sure they arrive at the polling station in time to cast their vote.

Why do votes get rejected?

There are a number of reasons why a vote may be rejected. In the case of postal votes, the most common reason is that the signature and/or date of birth provided on the postal voting statement do not match the ones supplied on the original postal vote application form and any subsequent signature updates. If the postal voting statement is not accepted, then that voter’s ballot paper cannot be counted.

At the count, ballot papers are rejected if the intention of the voter is unclear, for example if a voter has marked their ballot paper incorrectly or voted for more candidates than they are entitled to.

There is guidance issued to Returning Officers to assist them in their decision-making, including examples of what should and should not be accepted, based on the legislation and case law.

Can I opt-out of the open register?

You can opt-in or opt-out of the open register. The electoral register is used only for electoral purposes. The open register is available for general sale and can be used for commercial activities. Your name and address will appear on the electoral register but you have the choice to opt-out of the open register.

Further information can be found here Opt in/out of the open register.

Can I register to vote before my 18th birthday?

Yes. You can register to vote at 16 or 17 years old. If an election is called before your 18th birthday, you will not qualify to vote. However, if an election is called on or after your 18th birthday, then you will be eligible to vote.

Does being registered to vote affect my credit score?

Yes. Your credit score may be affected if you are not registered to vote. If you are not registered, you may be refused credit, have problems opening a bank account or taking out a mobile phone contract. If you are registered and are still have problems, you should contact one of the agencies and request a copy of your credit file.

Do I need to mark my ballot paper in pen or pencil?

Ballot papers can be marked with either pen or pencil. We provide pencils for practical reasons and to reduce the risk of ink transfer.

Is it a legal requirement to be registered to vote?

Yes. It is a legal requirement to be registered to vote. However, it is an option as to whether you chose to vote or not.

Can I vote online or by text?

No – legislation only allows electors to vote either in person at a polling station or by postal vote or by appointing a proxy to vote on your behalf.

Can candidates carry on campaigning on polling day?

Yes they can, including outside polling stations but they should comply with the Electoral Commission’s Code of Conduct, keeping access to polling places and the pavement clear. Campaigners should be thoughtful to voters in their approach - for example, recognising that some voters may find groups of supporters outside a polling station intimidating.

Can the police or polling station staff tell campaigners to go away?

Yes. Polling station staff and police officers shouldn’t discourage campaigning that is carried out peaceably but if campaigners are blocking access to the polling station, they can be asked to leave. The Presiding Officer is responsible for maintaining order at the polling station.

Do people need to bring any ID to the polling station?

From May 2023, all electors intending to vote in person at a polling station will be required to show one form of photo ID before being issued a ballot paper. You can find out more and check the list of accepted types of ID at the Voter ID at Elections page.

Do voters need to bring their poll cards?

No, electors do not need to take their poll card to the polling station to vote. 

From May 2023, all electors must take one form of photo ID to the polling station to be able to vote. A polling card is not an accepted form of ID – you can check the list of accepted ID on the Voter ID at Elections page.

I can’t get to the polling station in time. What can I do?

In certain circumstances, where you have an emergency that means you can't vote in person, you can apply for an emergency proxy up to 5pm on polling day. This must be something that you weren't aware of before the normal proxy vote deadline.

You can apply if you have a medical emergency or are away for work. You can also apply if your photo ID is lost, damaged, destroyed or stolen and the deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate has passed. 

You will need to submit a completed application form which can be emailed to Electoral Services. The forms can be downloaded from the  Electoral Commission website. Please email Electoral Services for more information.

Please note for medical or work-related applications the form will also needed to be signed by a medical professional / employer.

Please email Electoral Services for more information.