Can I Take My Dog To Vote?

All you need to know before you vote

Election Day is rapidly approaching, with an opportunity for us to cast a vote for who we would like to be our local MP, and therefore have a say in who will be our future government. The outcome of the election will have a significant influence on shaping the political, social and economic future of the UK. 

Around 4 million people will be eligible to vote for the first time, and so it will be a new experience. For those of us who have voted before, it happens so infrequently that we can often forget how to do it! And in any case, there is at least one important change this time compared to in previous elections. So, we’ve put together some useful advice and information to help you make your mark on 4 July.   

Before Election Day

Register to vote

  • You must register by 18 June to be able to vote on the 4th July. Register here (it takes 5 minutes).
  • If you aren’t sure whether you are registered, you can register again to be sure (you will still only get one vote!). If you have moved house, register again with your new address.
  • If you know that you won’t be able to cast your vote in person on 4 July, you can register for a postal vote or a proxy vote. A proxy vote allows someone else of your choosing to vote on your behalf. Register for a postal vote before 19 June or apply for a proxy vote by 26 July
  • If you are a student, you can register to vote at your university address and at your home address. This means you will be able to choose where you vote. You cannot vote twice.  

Make sure you have Voter ID

This is the first general election you need to have a form of accepted photo ID to vote. See all the accepted forms of Voter ID here. If you don’t have any suitable voter ID, apply for a Voter Authority Certification by Wednesday 26th June here, or register for a postal vote (you don’t need ID for postal voting). Students can apply for a free CitizenCard.

Work out how you are going to vote

You are registered to vote, you have your ID, now it’s time to decide how you’ll vote: 

When deciding how you are going to vote, you may want to consider issues, local candidates and political parties.

As you reflect on how you are going to vote you may want to pray, and also to reflect on the following questions:

  • What particular issues are important to you or your community?
  • Which party or candidate will best address these issues? 
  • Which party or candidate most aligns with your values? 
  • What are the particular policies or records of your local candidates? 

While most candidates will be a member of a party, they may also have specific policies or positions on issues. Check out the webpages and social media accounts of your local candidates to see what they have been saying about particular issues. If you can’t find a candidate’s position on any issue, consider emailing them (although in the busyness of campaigning you may not get a reply).  

Which party do you want to form a government? 

  • While your vote only directly elects your local MP, the party (or parties) with the largest number of MPs will form a government. Have a look at the party manifestos which outline policies that each of the parties would look to implement if they form a government. 

For most people, no one party or candidate matches perfectly with your hopes and wishes. Or it may be that your preferred candidate doesn’t have a chance of winning where you live, so you might want to thinking about voting tactically for whichever of the front-runners you’d rather won. Either way, a vote often represents a certain amount of compromise.

Sometimes people decide to spoil their ballot (make marks on their voting slip that mean it will be considered invalid) as a sign of protest.

Find out where your polling station is

If you are not voting by postal or proxy, you need to find your local polling station: 

  • If you have registered to vote you will receive a polling card with the address of your polling station, but you can also find out your polling station by entering your postcode here. If you do not receive a polling card by a few days before the election, contact your local authority’s election office. Polling stations should all be accessible.  
  • You don’t need to take your polling card with you to vote in a polling station.  

4th July. Election Day: 

Polling stations are open 7am- 10pm. You can vote anytime within these hours. You must take voter ID to be allowed to vote. Taking your polling card can sometimes help speed up the process when you get inside. 

The election officers will verify your identity, tick off that you have arrived to vote, give you a ballot paper and direct you to a polling booth. 

A polling booth is usually a table at standing height (with lower-height options to enable accessibility). You walk up to it and there are partitions to prevent other people seeing what you write. You’re now in the polling booth, your ballot paper is in front of you and you have a pencil in hand. To cast your vote put an X in the box next to the candidate you wish to vote for. You can only vote for one candidate as MP. If you make any other marks, e.g. drawings, writing political slogans or signing your name, your ballot will be considered to have been ‘spoiled’ and will not be counted.  

Spoiling your ballot is a valid form of democratic participation in the election. However, if you make a mistake on your ballot paper, don’t panic! You can ask for a new ballot paper. 

Voting Etiquette:

  • Photos: You can take photos outside the polling station, but you should not take photos inside the polling station, including in the polling booth.  
  • Clothing: Clothing with political slogans is allowed, but discouraged. You may be asked to leave the polling station quickly if you are wearing clothing with slogans as it is seen as canvassing, which is not allowed in the polling station. 
  • Friends, family and other animals: 
    • If you want to bring along a friend to support you as you vote, you are allowed to do so. They may come to the polling station, but unless they are also registered to vote in the same polling station, they may be refused entry to the station. They will not be allowed in the same polling booth. 
    • You are encouraged to bring your children along to give them an insight into democracy in action, but YOU must be the person to fill out the ballot paper. 
    • Pets, other than guide dogs, might be required to remain outside the polling station. You should ask permission first before trying to bring them in with you. Photos of pets outside polling stations is a common news trope on election day, since newscasters are prohibited from giving political commentary during the polling station opening hours. 
  • Campaigning and tellers: campaigning outside polling stations is illegal. However, there may be tellers from political parties who are taking entry or exit polls (asking how people say they have voted to get an earlier indication of how the election went, or just checking that people have voted so they can encourage those who haven’t to do so). You may be asked how you voted, if anyone says anything to you remember that you do not need to say anything to anyone that you don’t want to. You can just smile, say ‘no thank you’ and walk by if you wish. 

Congratulations, you have voted! Allow yourself to be filled with the glowing sense of accomplishment that comes with democratic participation. Now you, along with the rest of the country, get to wait with bated breath while votes are counted and we wait to hear who will form our next government. 


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