Are you election ready? Polling stations are open today, Thursday 2 May 2024

The local and South Yorkshire Mayoral elections are taking place today, Thursday 2 May, from 7am until 10pm, so we've put together this handy guide with some FAQs about what you can expect if you're voting in person at a polling station. 

Don't forget to take an accepted form of photo ID or your Voter Authority Certificate with you to the polling station. This is a legal requirement, and you won't be given a ballot paper without one. 

We'll post the results of the local elections across our social media channels on Friday 3 May, and we’ll share the results of the Mayor of South Yorkshire on Saturday 4 May. 


Where is my polling station?

If you have registered to vote, you should've received a poll card through the post from us to tell you where your polling station is. 

Make sure you check your poll card before heading out to vote in case your polling station has changed since you last voted. You can also find out where your polling station is on the Where Do I Vote? website by entering your postcode. You must go to your designated polling station; you can't go to a different one, for example, near where you work. 

Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm and you can vote at any time within this window. 


Can I still vote if I become unwell?

If you've registered to vote but become unwell shortly before polling day, or on the day itself, you don't need to miss out on your vote. 

You will be able to apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day, so someone you can trust can vote on your behalf and they must have their own acceptable photo ID. You must give a reason why you need to vote by proxy and your application must be supported by a qualified medical professional. 

You can arrange an emergency proxy vote by speaking to our Electoral Services team on 01226 773 070. 


How long will voting take?

It should only take a few minutes to vote. If you’re still in a queue waiting to vote at 10pm, you’ll be able to vote before the polls close. 


What happens when I get to the polling station?

Polling station staff will be on hand to greet you and invite you in as soon as polls open at 7am. 

The staff will ask to see an accepted form of photo ID or your Voter Authority Certificate – also known as a voter ID – to confirm your identity. A private area will be available at the polling station so a voter can choose to have their photo ID viewed in private if they like. 

The staff will then give you a ballot paper listing who you can vote for. Depending on the elections taking place in your area, you may have more than one ballot paper to complete. 


How do I complete the ballot paper?

Take your ballot paper into a polling booth. There will be a shelf for you to lean and write on. Use your own pen or pencil, but if you forgot to bring one, ask the Poll Clerks for one. 

Take your time: read the ballot paper carefully and complete it in line with the instructions. Don't write anything else on the paper, or your vote may not be counted. 

If you make a mistake, don't worry. As long as you haven't already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can give you a replacement ballot paper. 

Once you're done, fold your completed ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box. This will be on the desk beside the Poll Clerks. 


What if I need help?

If you're not sure what to do or need any help, just ask the staff at the polling station – they will be happy to assist you. 

If you have a disability which means you can't fill in the ballot paper yourself, you can ask the Presiding Officer – the person in charge of the polling station - to mark the ballot paper for you, or you can take someone along with you to help you. 

If you have a visual impairment, you can ask for a large print ballot paper to refer to when you cast your vote or a special tactile voting device that is designed so you can mark your ballot paper on your own. 


What happens if I don't have an accepted form of photo ID with me?

If you don’t have an accepted form of photo ID, you will be asked to return with an ID that is accepted to be able to vote. 


What forms of ID are accepted?

Accepted forms of photo ID include your passport, driving licence, provisional driving licence, older person’s bus pass, disabled person’s bus pass or blue badge. 

You can find the full list of accepted forms of ID on the Electoral Commission's website.


Why do I need to bring a photo ID or Voter Authority Certificate to vote?

The requirement to show photo ID at the polling station is a requirement, introduced by the UK Government’s Elections Act which was passed in 2022. The legislation requires voters at polling stations to show an accepted form of photo ID before they receive their ballot paper. 

Voters need to show photo ID before voting in local council elections in England, UK parliamentary general and by-elections, police and crime commissioner elections.


What happens if I've lost my ID or my Voter Authority Certificate hasn't arrived?

If you lose your ID, Voter Authority Certificate, or your Voter Authority Certificate does not arrive in time for election day, you can appoint an emergency proxy to vote on your behalf up until 5pm on election day. The person appointed as proxy, voting on someone else’s behalf, must have their own acceptable photo ID. 

You can arrange an emergency proxy vote by speaking to our Electoral Services team on 01226 773 070.


Should I tell anyone who I've voted for?

Your vote is yours and yours alone; you do not need to tell anyone how you voted. 

Exit polls are sometimes conducted, where people – usually private companies working for newspapers or broadcasters – ask voters leaving the polling station who they voted for to help them predict what the outcome might be. You do not need to respond to their questions if you don't want to. 

Political discussion is not allowed inside and immediately around the polling station and staff will ask you to stop so that there's no risk of influencing other voters. If you want to debate your vote with friends or family, please do it away from the polling station. 


What are 'tellers'? Why are they asking for the number on my poll card?

You might see people outside the polling station who ask you for the number on your poll card. These people are called 'tellers', and are volunteering on behalf of candidates or parties. They will use the information you give them to check who has voted, and to remind people who haven't yet voted to do so. 

They are allowed to be there and to ask for the information, but you don't have to give them any information if you don't want to. If you are concerned about the conduct of a teller, speak to a member of staff at the polling station. 


Can I take my friend, partner, children, parents or dog with me?

You can go along to the polling station with whomever you like, but only those registered to vote at that station will be able to go inside. You must not be accompanied into the polling booth by another adult, unless you have a disability, in which case you can take someone in to help you, or you can ask one of the polling station's staff for their help. 

Children are welcome at polling stations. While your child must not mark the ballot paper for you, you will be allowed to take them into the polling booth with you. 

Animals, apart from assistance dogs, are not usually allowed inside polling stations, so will need to be secured outside if you do decide to take them with you. 


Can I take selfies or other photos while I'm voting?

You shouldn't take photos inside the polling station as it might put the secrecy of the ballot at risk. 

You are more than welcome to take photos outside the polling station and share them on social media to encourage your friends and family to vote, using the hashtag #BarnsleyVote24 or #DogsAtPollingStations if you've taken your dog with you. 


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