Why should I vote?
In a democratic society everyone's vote is important. It is through voting that we let our views be known to the Government and the local council. A strong and stable democracy relies on people making the most of their right to vote - don't miss the chance!
What elections are there?
In Poole, elections are held at three different 'levels':
Electing Councillors for the Borough of Poole - this happens every 4 years, when every councillor is appointed. Occasionally there are by-elections, following the departure of individual councillors.
Electing Members of Parliament - Poole is part of three different parliamentary constituencies: Bournemouth West, Poole, and Mid-Dorset and North Poole. General elections are now held on a fixed term of five years. Again there can be by-elections, held if an MP leaves office.
2012 saw the first elections of Police and Crime Commissioners for Police Authorities across England and Wales. These elections are set to be held every four years.
Electing MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) - Poole is in the South-West region of England for this, and the region currently elects 6 MEPs. These elections happen every 5 years; the next one will be in 2014. There are no European parliament by-elections, as replacement MEPs, if needed, are appointed from lists held by the political parties.
Please see our Elections and Voting section for links to more information about recent and forthcoming elections.
Who can vote?
In order to vote in any election, your name must be on the Electoral Register.
This list shows the elections in which you are entitled to vote:
If you are on the Electoral Register and a citizen of:
You can vote in:
Great Britain, Republic of Ireland, Malta, Cyprus and other Commonwealth countries (if you have leave to enter or remain in the UK or do not need it)
Other European Union countries
European elections (if you have signed a declaration that you will not also be voting in your home country)
All other countries
You are not able to be on the Electoral Register, so you cannot vote in any elections
How can I vote?
There are three ways that you can vote.
If your name is on the Electoral Register, you will be sent a Poll Card a few weeks before the election.
The Poll Card will tell you:
- The date and time of the election
- The location of your Polling Station
You should check these details carefully, as sometimes we have to change the Polling Station locations.
You can go to vote at your Polling Station at any time during the official polling hours. Some Polling Stations are in local buildings, such as libraries, church halls and community centres. Others are in temporary buildings that are placed in car parks or by the road-side. All our Polling Stations are accessible to all with mobility issues. There will be plenty of signs to identify the Polling Station and how to get in to the building.
It helps if you take your Poll Card with you when you go to vote. This will speed up the process when the Polling Station staff check your details. If you haven't received a Poll Card or lose or forget to bring it with you, you can still vote as the staff will ask you to confirm your name and address and will then check that you are eligible to vote.
Once your details have been checked, you will be given an official ballot paper, telling you:
- How many candidates you can vote for
- The names of the candidates and the parties they represent
You then take the ballot paper to one of the polling booths and you will need to
- Put a cross next to the name(s) of the candidate(s) you want to support
- Fold the ballot paper to hide your vote
- Show it to the staff
- Put it in the sealed ballot box
Don't write anything else on the ballot paper otherwise your vote may not be counted.
Our staff at the Polling Station are there to help you and if you need any assistance (for instance someone to read you the list of candidates) they will be happy to do this for you.
Access for all
Every effort is made to ensure that all our Polling Stations are accessible for everyone. Arrangements that we have in place include:
Taking a Companion - You can bring a companion along to help you. Your companion must either be a relative or someone else who is eligible to vote in the election.
Wheelchair access - All Polling Stations are accessible by wheelchair. If assistance is needed to get your wheelchair into the polling booth the staff there may be able to help.
Large print ballot papers - All Polling Stations are provided with a large print copy of the official ballot paper. The large print copy can be taken into the polling booth with you to assist you to mark your own ballot paper.
A 'Selector' - A special device, known as a 'Selector' will be available at each Polling Station. The Selector has been designed to enable voters with poor eyesight to mark the official ballot paper without assistance. If you would like to make use of the Selector, please tell the staff before you are handed a ballot paper. Staff at the polling station will explain to you how to use it, provide any assistance you may need and read you the names of the candidates and parties they represent to you before you make your vote.