Answers to frequently asked questions about registering to vote and voting at elections and referendums
What is the council doing to combat electoral fraud?
In July 2014, the Electoral Commission published a report which recognised that the measures Tower Hamlets put in place to combat fraud were some of the most detailed and robust in the country and that our response, alongside the police, to allegations of fraud was prompt and thorough.
The council is building on the excellent electoral processes that we already have in place. We have set up an enhanced joint training operation for polling staff and police to ensure that any fraudulent activity at polling stations is immediately identified and dealt with; and strong partnership working between the council, Electoral Commission and police will ensure that any complaints during the elections are swiftly investigated and resolved.
A secure web portal has now been set up for reporting electoral malpractice that immediately permeates to all stakeholders with a reference supplied to the complainent.
If you wish to report any incident of electoral malpractice you can also do so anonymously by calling crimestoppers 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org
What is IER
What is IER?
IER – Individual Electoral Registration – is a new system of registration which was introduced in 2014 to ensure greater confidence as to the identity of electors and improved access to the registration process.
How is the new system different?
- Under the new system you need to provide a few more details to register including your national insurance number and date of birth. This makes the electoral register more secure.
- You can now register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
- Everyone is responsible for their own registration.
Once a person is registered under IER their registration is continuous until they move to a different address or for any reason are no longer eligible to remain registered as an elector.
What does this mean?
The start of IER in 2014 involved electors being compared against entries on the electoral register against Government databases. If you’re registered before June 2014 you may have been automatically transferred onto the revised register and do not need to do anything else.
All new applicants have to follow the new rules. We will let you know how to do this, when to do it and provide you with help if you need it.
How will I know if I am registered under the new system?
If you were included on the Register of Electors by July 1, 2014 and your identity information matched the Government databases, you would have received written confirmation that you are registered to vote under the new system.
Do I need to do anything?
If you did receive a letter confirming you are registered under the new system and have confirmed that you are still registered following the annual canvass you do not need to do anything.
However, you may need to register under the new system if:
- you received a letter telling you that you needed to re-register, or
- you have changed address since you received a confirmation that you were registered, or
- you did not receive a letter.
How do I register?
Registering to vote is easy:
- visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
- fill in your name, address, date of birth and a few other details. You’ll also need your National Insurance number, which can be found on your National Insurance card, or in official paperwork such as payslips, or letters about benefits or tax credits
- as soon as your information is verified, we will send you an acknowledgment letter.
- You can also call the office on 020 7364 0872 and provide the information over the telephone or
- We can send you an application through the post
What are the two registers?
Using information received from the public, registration officers keep two registers – the full register and the open register (also known as the edited register).
The full register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as detecting crime (eg, fraud), calling people for jury service and checking credit applications.
The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.
How do I join or get removed from the open register?
If you are registering online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote, you can click in the box if you want your name and address to be removed from the open register.
You can also change your preference at any time by making a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, address and an indication of whether you wish to be included or removed from the open register.
When you can register in more than one place
It’s sometimes possible to register at two addresses (though you can only vote once in a national election). For example, if you’re a student with different home and term-time addresses, you may be able to register at both.
If you want to register at two addresses, go online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and make two separate applications. Your local Electoral Services Office will look at each application and tell you whether you’re allowed to register.
What happens if you don’t register
If you meet the conditions for registering to vote (eg, you’re 16 or over and you’re British or a national of an EU or Commonwealth country) and you’re invited to register, you have to do so.
If you’re invited to register and don’t do so, your local Electoral Registration Officer could impose a civil penalty fine of £80.
You won’t be fined if you have a valid reason for not registering, e.g. a long stay in hospital, or you have severe learning difficulties.
To find out more go to www.gov.uk/yourvotematters.
Answers to frequently asked questions about voting at elections and referendums
Where is my polling station?
Prior to every election the Council's Returning Officer will send a polling card to all registered electors details of how to vote, where and when to vote. On the card there is a map and the location of your allocated polling station and if you have a postal vote when that will be sent to you.
You can also check where your polling station is online. Visit polling station finder.
If you have not received your polling card, you should call the electoral registration office to check that you are registered to vote. Tel: 020 7364 0872.
I have lost my polling card, can I still vote?
If you have lost your polling card, just go to your polling station and tell the staff your full name and address and you will be able to vote.
Do I need to take ID to the polling station?
You do not need to show ID to vote. You will need to tell polling staff your full name and address. They will then mark your name in the register and give you your ballot paper/s.
What happens in a polling station?
When you arrive in the polling station you tell the staff your name and address so they can check that you are on the electoral register. If you have it, show them your polling card, but you will still be asked to confirm your full name and address.
The staff at the polling station will give you the ballot papers for the election/s being held and you then go to the polling booth to mark the ballot selecting your individual preference.
Tower Hamlets Council, the Returning Officer, the Metropolitan Police and the Electoral Commission are working together to support all voters in casting their votes securely and that you exercise your right to vote yourself and that you do so in secret.
Further infomation on the Your Vote is Yours Alone 2018 campaign can be found here
Do not make any other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted.
What time are the polling stations open?
Polling stations will be open from 7am-10pm. The location of your polling station is printed on your poll card or you can find your polling station via our ‘postcode finder’ go to: polling station finder
I have lost/not received my postal vote?
We can issue a replacement postal vote pack from the Town Hall, Mulberry Place, 5 Clove Crescent, London E14 2BG . You must bring two forms of ID with you, one with a photograph. The first date that an application to apply for a replacement pack is Friday 27 April 2018 and the deadline to apply for a replacement for a spoilt or lost postal vote pack is 5pm Thursday 3 May 2018 .
When will the votes be counted?
The verification of ballot papers for the combined polls on Thursday 3 May 2018 will begin at 10pm (BST) and will take place at the Excel Exhibition Centre. The counting of the ballots for the Mayoral election will take place immediately after the verification with the local election count commencing at 2pm on Friday 4th May 2018. The results will be available on the Council's website once the final results are declared by the Returning Officer.
Please note that entry into the count venue will be strictly by invitation only.
How do you know that people who are voting are legitimate?
The council has worked hard to ensure that the borough’s electorate are correctly registered under Individual Electoral Register (IER) ensuring everyone’s details have been verified before adding them to the register.
During the election process, the council also carry out additional checks on late applications to register and all addresses with more than six persons registered to vote.
Where can I find out more information about elections in Tower Hamlets?
Ring our helpline: 020 7364 0872 or go to www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/vote
I can’t find my polling station using the interactive map – the page doesn’t load up
This is unfortunate but during busy periods our maps take longer to load onto the system. Please contact us and we can have a look for you.
I can’t get to a polling station – I’m just going to get a friend to go for me
While it is not necessary to show ID to vote, this is an electoral offence. Presiding Officers at Polling Stations have to follow a statutory process and they may ask electors specific questions to enable them to identify who the elector is and establish that they are the person entitled to vote. Consequently, there are serious implications if someone acts on your behalf and votes for you unofficially and potentially commit an offence. Please contact the elections team on 020 7364 0872 and we will advise you accordingly and it might be possible for you to appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf. This is subject to an official application and deadline so contact the office as soon as possible.
How to contact us
5 Clove Crescent
Tel: 020 7364 0872
Fax: 020 7364 3758