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How Election Voting Works

How Election Voting Works

In the run-up to the General Election, we're answering questions commonly searched for about the election, and asked on Twitter tagging @speakerpolitics. Tweet us now to ask your question.

This guide is for UK general elections and was last updated on 9 December 2019 - for guides for other countries, checkout #InspireNextGen here.


The UK is about to head to the polls for the 2019 General Election - but how does voting actually work? 

The voting process in UK elections is pretty simple. Here's what you need to know;

  1. You'll need to head to your polling station as detailed in your polling card between 7am and 10pm on the day of the election (try not to leave it until the last minute!) You currently don't need to take anything (other than yourself). However, if you live in Northern Ireland, you'll need to take photo ID in order to vote.
  2. Once at the polling station, give your name, or your polling card if you have it, to a member of election staff. Once they have verified your name, they will hand you a ballot paper for you to vote with.
  3. Take your ballot paper to the voting booth - this may be a separate room or just a set of enclosed tables. 
  4. Place an 'X' in the box for the candidate you wish to choose. Be sure to follow any instructions on the ballot paper.
  5. Fold your ballot paper and place it in the ballot box.

That's it. The exit poll for the election will give a first indication of the results when polls close at 10pm, and official results will come in through the night and into Friday morning.

It's also possible to vote by post or by proxy, however, if you haven't already registered to do this, it is now too late for this election. You can find out more about this here.


How are votes counted and results calculated?

The UK uses an electoral system called First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) where seats are assigned to the candidate with the highest number of votes, even if they do not have a majority of all votes cast.

For more on UK elections, check out our guide in #InspireNextGen.

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