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Elections and voting

Register to vote in national and local elections

Having your say on local and national issues that affect you is important. 

You can register to vote at two addresses (i.e. at home and at university) - but you may only vote in one place for general elections and in both places for local elections.

Elections have different rules on who can vote, depending on things like your citizenship and how long you've lived in the country.

Register to vote

Why you should vote

Voting in national and local elections is important because:

  • Policies created by local MPs, the government and the local council can have a big impact on your daily life
  • You can be part of electing a party you think best represents your views
  • Being registered to vote helps to improve your credit score

You can find out when your next elections are, your polling station information, and more on the Electoral Commission website.

Eligibility to vote

 For a general election, you must:

  • Be registered to vote in the constituency
  • Be 18 years old (or over) on the day of the election vote (known as 'polling day').
  • Be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen
  • Be resident at an address in the UK (British citizens living abroad can also vote IF they have been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years)
  • Not be legally excluded from voting

For a local election, you must:

  • Be registered to vote in the local authority area
  • Be 18 years old (or over) on the day of the election vote (known as 'polling day').
  • Be a British, Commonwealth or EU citizen
  • Be resident at an address in the area you wish to vote in
  • Not be legally excluded from voting

How to register to vote

You can register to vote through the Government website. You will need to provide your name, any previous name, address in Portsmouth (including postcode), home address (including postcode), date of birth, national insurance number (which can be found on your national insurance card or official paperwork such as payslips) and a few other details. You may also need your passport.

Once you've been successfully registered, it will be confirmed in writing.

If you need help you can call the Portsmouth voter registration helpline on +44 (0)23 9283 4074 or visit the Portsmouth City Council website.

How to vote

You can vote in 3 ways:

  • In person, at the polling station
  • By post, before the election
  • By proxy, if you want someone else to cast your vote on your behalf

How you vote is up to you. Most people vote at a polling station. If you are not able to go to the polling station on election day, you can apply to vote by post or by proxy - but you need to do this in before election day. More information on the ways to vote is on the Government website.

Disabled voters can:

  • Ask the person in charge at the polling station (the Presiding Officer), to mark the ballot paper for them.
  • Bring someone to the polling station to help them vote (this person must be an immediate family member over 18 years old, or someone else who is registered to vote)
  • Use a Braille plastic device that is fixed onto the ballot paper to help them vote
  • See a large-print version of the ballot paper

Can you vote twice at home and at university?

If your home and university addresses are in two different local authority areas, you can vote in local elections in both areas.

However, even if you are registered in two areas – at home and at university – you can only vote in one at a UK general election. It is a criminal offence to vote twice in a UK general election.

How do I re-register or check if I am registered?

To find out if you are already registered to vote, contact your local Electoral Registration Office. In Portsmouth you can contact the election services team on

When you move house or flat, you should update your details by registering to vote at your new address.