Thursday, May 4th, is election day in all of Surrey’s 11 boroughs and districts. This means voters in Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Waverley, and Woking will be going to the polls.
These are the councils that decide planning matters, housing, and bin collections. With a year to go until the next general election this could serve as an indication of the national mood towards the current government.
As ever, voters will have plenty of questions about the rules and what needs to be taken to polling stations – even more so in the light of recent changes to voter ID requirements.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service answers some of the most common questions so voters can be are armed with everything they need to know as they head to their polling stations between 7am and 10pm.
Changes to voter ID rules – Bring ID
These local elections will be the first where all voters need photo ID in order to cast their ballot. Forms of ID accepted at polling stations will include a driving licence, passport, Blue Badge, Oyster 60+ Card, Older Person’s Bus Pass and more. Equivalent travel cards for young people, such as the Oyster 18+ card, will not be accepted forms of ID.
Expired ID, for example an out-of-date passport, is allowed so long as the photograph still bears a strong resemblance.
The full list is HERE
Where do I go to vote?
Vote at the polling station listed on your polling card. Your poll card is for information only, you do not need to bring it with you to vote. If you do not know where your card is, you can always check your polling station location by entering your postcode here.
Your ballot paper will list out all the candidates and parties you can vote for. You may be given more than one ballot paper, particularly if there is a parish council election happening in your area on the same day. Take your ballot into a polling booth, so no one can see how you vote. Read it carefully as it will tell you how to cast your vote. Mark your paper according to your own wishes, fold it in half and put it in the ballot box.
What time do polling stations shut?
Polling stations always open at 7am and close at 10pm. If you want to avoid a queue it’s best to head down during the workday or in the evening as it tends to be the busiest first thing in the morning, before school run, and around 5pm-6pm after work. People who are in the queue before closing time are still allowed to vote, regardless of whether you are inside or outside the building.
Can I take my own pen to vote in the 2023 Local Elections?
There is nothing in the legislation that says ballot papers must be marked with a pencil. Pencils are provided in polling stations but you can choose to take a pen with you. There is a risk ink may transfer onto the other side of the ballot paper when folded, and if it looks like the voter has chosen more than one candidate, it could potentially lead to their vote being rejected. Some people prefer to use a pen in case someone erases their cross and adds one elsewhere.
Can I take a selfie when I vote?
Although not against the law to take a selfie at a polling station, it is strongly discouraged in or near a voting booth. Anyone who reveals how someone else voted, even without meaning to, could be fined £5,000 or get sent to prison for six months. Voting is supposed to be secret and it’s illegal to share a photo of a ballot paper – including your own – under Section 66 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.
Can I bring my dog?
Please do! Pictures of dogs at polling stations are one of the highlights of any election.