Answers to frequently asked questions about registering to vote and voting at elections and referendums
What is IER?
IER – Individual Electoral Registration – is a new system of registration which has been introduced to ensure greater confidence as to the identity of electors and improved access to the registration process.
How is the new system different?
- 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 on www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
- Everyone is responsible for registering themselves. Under the old system the ‘head of every household’ could register everyone who lived at their address.
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 will involve confirming the identity of current electors by comparing entries in the register against national databases. If you’re registered before June 2014, some people should be automatically transferred to IER and do not need to do anything else.
Other people will need to provide additional information in order to stay on the register. 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 matches other national databases, you would have received a written confirmation letter in August that you are registered to vote under the new system.
Do I need to do anything?
If you received a letter confirming you are registered under the new system 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.
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: email@example.com with your full name, address and an indication of whether you wish to be included or removed from the open register.
How do I get on the electoral register or update my details (eg change my name or address)?
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 government 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, eg 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?
The council has sent all electors a polling card with details of where and when to vote. On the card there is a map and the location of your allocated polling station.
You can also check where your polling station is online. Visit www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/vote.
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.
What happens in a polling station?
Tell the staff inside the polling station your name and address so they can check that you are on the electoral register. You can show them your poll card, but you will still be asked to confirm your full name and address.
The staff at the polling station will give you one ballot paper with a question: ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’.
Voters will be instructed to put a cross in the box for their preferred outcome:
‘Remain a member of the European Union’ or ‘Leave the European Union.’
Take your ballot paper into a polling booth so that no one can see how you vote. 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: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/vote
I have lost/not received my postal vote?
We can issue a replacement postal vote pack from the Town Hall, Mulberry Place. You must bring two forms of ID with you, one photographic. The deadline to issue a replacement pack is 5pm on Thursday 8 June 2017.
When will the votes be counted?
Counting will begin at 10pm (BST) on Thursday 8 June. The results will be available on the Commission’s website once the final, overall result is declared by the Chief Counting Officer and Tower Hamlets website go to: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/vote or: www.electoralcommission.org.uk
How do you know that people who are voting are legitimate?
The council has worked hard to ensure that the borough’s electorate registered under Individual Electoral Register (IER), ensures everyone’s details are verified before adding them to the register.
During the election process, the council also carried 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
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.
I can’t find my polling station using the interactive map – the page doesn’t load up
Sorry – during busy periods our map takes longer to load. Please direct message us your postcode via Twitter 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 offence. Presiding Officers at Polling Stations have a statutory process and questions that they are required to ask all electors to enable them to identify who they are. But you don’t need to ask your friend to vote for you – contact the elections team urgently on 020 7364 0872 and it might be possible for you to appoint an emergency proxy to vote on your behalf.
How to contact us
5 Clove Crescent
Tel: 020 7364 0872
Fax: 020 7364 3758