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Register to Vote

How to Register to Vote

The way you register to vote changed in September 2014. You need to register to be able to vote in elections and referendums.

You can register to vote on the Government online registration site - You must provide your name, address, date or birth and national insurance number. Providing this information makes the registration process more secure.

 


You are now responsible for registering yourself – under the old system the ‘head of the household’ could register everyone who lived at their address. The new system is called Individual Electoral Registration (IER).

Although your name may appear on the Electoral Register, you’re not under any legal obligation to vote in any election, unless you wish to do so, however, you must be on the register to be able to vote.




It’s also important that you re-register as soon as possible if your circumstances change e.g. if you move house.

If you are not able to attend a polling station on the day of the election, you may apply in advance to vote by post or proxy (where someone you trust votes on your behalf). However to vote by post or proxy you will have to be registered under IER, as will the person you ask to vote on your behalf. Different rules govern each of these methods of "absent voting".

For more information on IER please see our Frequently Asked Questions which appear at the bottom of this page.

You can access more information by clicking on the headings below:

Register of electors

The Register of electors is a list of everyone who is registered to vote and shows what elections and referendums they can vote in. Not everyone whose name appears on the Register has the right to vote at all elections and referendums.

The Electoral Registration Officer keeps two registers – the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).

The electoral register

The electoral 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 set out in law, such as detecting crime (e.g. fraud), calling people for jury service and checking credit applications.

The open register

The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but isn’t used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it’s used by businesses and charities to confirm names and addresses. 

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 doesn’t affect your right to vote.If you wish to change your open register choice, please complete our online form or contact us with your name and address.

We will write to you once we’ve changed your open register status. The letter will confirm the change we’ve made and will tell you when a new version of the register, reflecting your request, will be published.

Viewing the register of electors

You can view a current copy of the electoral register, under supervision at:
  • Your local library
  • Electoral Registration Office, Fife House, North Street, Glenrothes
  • FifeCouncil Local Offices
If you can’t see your name on the register, for example, if you’ve recently moved house, you can register to vote here.  You must provide your name, address, date or birth and national insurance number. Providing this information makes the registration process more secure.

Voting by post

It is possible to vote by post in an election. However to vote by post you will have to be registered under IER. If you apply to vote by post you will receive a postal pack (ballot paper, postal voting statement and return envelopes) at the address you have requested.

You will not be able to vote at a polling station. However it is possible to hand your complete postal pack into a polling station within the Fife Council area if you are unable to post it in time.

Somebody voting on your behalf (a proxy vote)

If you can't vote in person, you can apply to vote by proxy. However to vote by proxy you will have to be registered under IER, as will the person you ask to vote on your behalf. Anyone can be your proxy as long as they are eligible to vote in the election and are willing to vote on your behalf.

You have to provide a reason for needing a proxy vote.

For example:

  • you are going away on holiday
  • you have a physical condition that prevents you from getting to the polling place
  • the kind of work you do means you can't get to the polling station
  • you have to attend an educational course
  • you are a Crown Servant or a member of Her Majesty's Armed force.


To apply for a proxy vote please complete the correct form which you’ll find here. Return it to Fife Council’s Electoral Registration Team.

Contact details are at the bottom of this page.

What happens after I register? 

If you have chosen to vote at a polling station you will receive a poll card in before the election or referendum which shows the name and address of your polling station. If you have asked to vote by post you will receive a letter explaining how to vote and when you will receive your postal vote.

Where is my polling station?

If you are on the electoral register, you will receive a poll card before the election telling you where and when to vote. The polling station is often a school or local hall near where you live. The poll card is for your information only; you do not need to take it to the polling station in order to vote, although it will help if you do. Click here for more details on our polling places and districts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Individual Electoral Registration (IER) - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Q.     What is Individual Electoral Registration (IER)?
    • Individual Electoral Registration or IER is the new electoral registration system for Great Britain. It began in Scotland on 19 September 2014.

      From the 19 September 2014 you are now responsible for registering yourself if you want to be able to vote. Under the old system the ‘head of the household’ could register everyone who lived at their address. The new system also means that you can now register online


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  • Q.     Do I need to do anything / do I need to re-register?
    • Most people who are currently registered to vote have been registered automatically under the new system. They do not need to do anything and will continue to be registered to vote as usual. The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) will send a letter by the end of November to let these people know that they are registered under the new systemA minority of people on the electoral register have not been automatically registered under the new system. It is straightforward for these people to re-register. The ERO will write to the people who are not automatically registered to let them know that they need to register under the new system. A registration form was included with the letter or they can register online.

      If you receive a letter saying you've automatically been registered you do not need to do anything, but if you move home in the future you should register again.

      If you receive a letter saying you need to re-register, it’s straightforward to do so. Simply fill in the form.

      If you do not receive a letter it is possible to check whether you are registered under the new system by contacting the Electoral Registration Team on 03451 55 55 11 or contact us online


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  • Q.     Why has the system changed?
    • Individual electoral registration gives you the right and responsibility to register yourself, instead of giving the responsibility to a head of household. As such, it encourages people to take individual responsibility for their own vote.

      The change has also allowed more convenient methods of registration, for example, online. Because the new system asks you for a few more details before you are added to the register (your National Insurance number and date of birth) the electoral register will be more secure and more resistant to threats of electoral fraud.


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  • Q.     Who is responsible for changing the system?
    • The system was introduced by the UK government through the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, which became law on 31 January 2013. Electoral Registration Officers are implementing the change.


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  • Q.     I've heard people will fall off the register, how are you stopping this?
    • Most people already registered to vote will be automatically registered under the new system so will not fall off the register. Some people will not be automatically re-registered, but the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) will write to them to let them know and include a registration form and envelope with the letter. Reminders and personal visits will also be undertaken as appropriate. Even if they do not respond, special arrangements have been put in place so they can still vote at all elections until December 2015. Eventually, all those who were not automatically transferred will need to re-register.

      As well as sending people registration forms, the ERO will publicise the change to let people know about it and encourage them to register where they need to. The Electoral Commission will also be running national mass media public awareness advertising.


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  • Q.     Does the change affect how I vote?
    • Voting processes haven't changed. However, if you want to vote by post or proxy you will need to ensure that you are registered under the new system. If you have not already applied to vote by post, you will need to do so by 5.00pm, 11 working days before an election.

      If you haven't already applied to vote by proxy, the deadline is normally six working days before an election, apart from in the case of a medical emergency or if you are called away unexpectedly for work reasons, when you may be able to apply up to 5.00pm on polling day


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  • Q.     I've been registered for ages, and received a letter saying I needed to re-register why do I have to?
    • Most people have been registered automatically under the new system. This happened because local Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) compared the names on their electoral registers to government records to confirm who people are. This has been done carefully through a secure system that has been tested thoroughly.

      Some people have not been matched against government records and therefore cannot be transferred automatically to the new register. For example, they may have moved home or changed their personal details since the record was last updated.


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  • Q.     Why haven't I been automatically registered?
    • Some people have not been matched against government records and therefore cannot be transferred automatically to the new register. For example, they may have moved home or changed their personal details since the record was last updated. Your details have not been matched, but it’s straightforward to re-register.

      You can re-register online.


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  • Q.     I received an invitation to register, but my partner got a confirmation letter. Why the difference?
    • The voter registration system recently changed. Most people who were registered to vote have been registered automatically under the new system and the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) has written to them to let them know. This happened because electoral registration staff compared the names on their electoral registers to government records to confirm who people are. This has been done carefully through a secure system that has been tested thoroughly.

      While many people were automatically registered under the new system, for various reasons some people have not been matched against government records and therefore cannot be transferred automatically. For example, they may have moved home or changed their personal details since the record was last updated. Or it may be that your partner’s details have been recently processed for other reasons, for example, their employer may have updated them with government offices.


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  • Q.     I received an invitation to register, but I already registered online.
    • Online registration can take a few days to process, so it is possible that the letter was prepared before your online registration was processed. You do not need to return the paper form if you have received confirmation that your online application has been received. The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) will contact you to confirm your registration.


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  • Q.     I received an invitation to register, can I still vote if I don't register?
    • If you have received a letter to say that you need to re-register to vote, it is important that you respond. You can register online or by returning the form included with the letter. It is important that you re-register as soon as possible as you will lose your vote.


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  • Q.     I received a confirmation letter but the details are wrong, how can I change them?
    • If your name has changed you can complete a change of name form with your previous and new name and date of the change. You will need to provide evidence to support the change of name such as a marriage certificate or deed poll certificate (although there is a process if you can't provide this. Please contact the Electoral Registration Team on 03451 55 55 11 or contact us online for more information).


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  • Q.     I received an Invitation to register, can I still vote by post / proxy?
    • You will need to register under the new system to retain your postal / proxy vote. If you don't, you will not be able to vote by post / proxy in the next elections following the 2014 canvass. You can return the paper form included with your letter or you can register online.


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  • Q.     Can a family member register me?
    • Everybody needs to register themselves. It is straightforward and quick and you can register on-line.

      If you are unable to register yourself, it's ok to get help filling in the details, but you must make the declaration yourself.


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  • Q.     Will I still get an annual canvass form?
    • Instead of your old annual canvass form, you will receive a new type of form called a “household enquiry form” (HEF). You should use this form to confirm who lives in your home. If new adults aged 16 or over have moved in you should add them to the form, and if they have not registered the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) will send them an invitation to register.


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  • Q.     Do I need to re-register each year?
    • You don't need to register again unless you change address. You should however return the form that you will receive every year that confirms who is living in your household. You should also inform the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) if any of your details (such as your name) change.


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  • Q.     I moved house, am I still registered?
  • Q.     Can I register at two addresses?
    • Normally people are registered at their permanent home address. Students may register at both their term-time and non-term-time address. If you are living somewhere temporarily but have a permanent address elsewhere, you should register at the permanent address.


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  • Q.     Must I register and what happens if I don't?
    • If the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) has invited you to register to vote it is important that you respond. If you don't, he will send you reminders through the post and someone will visit your home. At the end of this process he may send you a requirement to register; if you fail to do so without providing adequate reason why you have not, you may be fined £80. Not being registered can also impact on applications for mortgages or mobile phones, since credit reference agencies use the register to validate applications.


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  • Q.     How do I change my name on the register?
    • If your name has changed you can complete a change of name form with your previous and new name and the date of the change. You will need to provide evidence to support the change of name, such as a marriage certificate or deed poll certificate (although there is a process if you can't provide this. Please contact the Electoral Registration Team on 03451 55 55 11 or contact us online for more information).


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  • Q.     I live overseas, can I register?
    • British citizens living abroad can vote in UK Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections, but not in local elections or elections to the Scottish Parliament. British citizens living abroad for more than 15 years are not eligible to register to vote in UK elections. You can register as an overseas electoron-line with the local authority for the address where you were last registered in the UK.


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  • Q.     I am a service voter, how do I register?
    • Members of HM Forces and their spouse or civil partner can register as an ordinary elector or they have the option to register as a service voter. You can register as a service voter on-line. A service declaration must be completed, which is valid for five years. Each unit of the services has designated one member of staff to be a Unit Registration Officer who will be able to provide further advice.


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  • Q.     Who is eligible to register to vote?
    • You can register to vote if you are: 16 years old or over and a British citizen or an Irish, qualifying Commonwealth or European Union citizen who is resident in the UK (except for service voters or overseas voters).

      Seventeen-year-olds and some 16-year olds are entitled to be included on the register as attainers. They can vote once they are 18.

      To qualify, Commonwealth citizens must be resident in the UK and either have leave to enter or remain in the UK or not require such leave. The definition of a 'Commonwealth citizen' includes citizens of British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

      Citizens of the European Union (who are not Commonwealth citizens or citizens of the Republic of Ireland) can vote in local elections in the UK, elections to the Scottish Parliament and some referendums (based on the rules for the particular referendum), but are not able to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections. They can also vote in European Elections by completing a separate application and making a declaration stating that they will vote only in the UK at any European election during the 12-months of the declaration.


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  • Q.     How do I find my National Insurance number?
    • A National Insurance number is a reference number used by government. The easiest place to find your National Insurance number is on official paperwork, such as your National Insurance card, payslips or letters from the Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Students may be able to find it in their university registration details or application for student loan.  If you still can’t find it you can use the HMRC enquiry service.

      If you don’t have access to the internet you can call National Insurance Registrations Helpline on 0300 200 3502. Please be aware that HMRC won’t tell you your National Insurance number over the phone, they’ll post it to you.


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  • Q.     I don't know my date of birth
    • If you do not know your actual date of birth, you may have been given an official one in the past and this can be used to register to vote. This can be found on paperwork, including a passport, adoption certificate, driving licenceor naturalisationcertificate. If you do not have one, you will need to explain why you are unable to provide it in your registration application.


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  • Q.     I am unable to read the letter I was sent from you
    • The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) recently wrote to you about the new electoral registration system. If you can’t read the letter, please call the Electoral Registration Team on 03451 55 55 11 or contact us online


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  • Q.     Can you provide information in another format (Braille, large print etc)?
    • If you want to register to vote, you can do so on-line, where you will find assistive technologies such as screen readers, or the Electoral Registration team can send you an application to register form in another format. Please contact us on 03451 55 55 11 or contact us online for more information.


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  • Q.     How will I know if my online registration was successful?
    • You will be sent a letter by the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) confirming that your registration was successful, or asking for more information if that is required. If you have provided your email address or phone numbers, you may be contacted that way instead.


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  • Q.     There are people listed on the household enquiry form (HEF) that don't live here, what do I do?
    • If anyone listed on the HEF is not living at your address, their name/s should be clearly crossed through and the form returned.


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  • Q.     Do I put down everyone who lives here?
    • You need to include the name and nationality of everyone aged 16 or over who is resident and eligible to register to vote. If there are no eligible residents, you should state why this is the case.


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  • Q.     Do I have to fill in the household enquiry form (HEF)?
    • By law, you need to provide the information requested on the HEF. There is a criminal penalty (maximum fine £1,000) for failing to provide the information required by the HEF to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO). The penalty for providing false information to an ERO is imprisonment of up to six months or a fine (on summary conviction) of a maximum of £5,000.


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  • Q.     Do I need to include my email address and phone number on the HEF?
    • You are invited to include your email address and phone number on the HEF, but you do not have to. The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) will use this information only in connection with your registration, and it helps us to contact you if there is a problem.


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  • Q.     I have already returned a HEF, do I need to return the registration form I've received too?
    • You should complete and return the registration form or register online. The HEF is not a registration form, but instead provides the ERO with information on who lives in your household. This means he can invite other residents to register to vote if he needs to.


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  • Q.     What is the open (edited) register?
    • Using information received from the public, registration officers keep two registers the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).

      The electoral 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 (e.g. 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.

      If you wish to change your open register choice, please complete the online form or call the Electoral Registration Team on 03451 55 55 11 or contact us online with your name and address.  We will write to you once we have changed your open register status.  The letter will confirm the change we’ve made and will tell you when a new version of the register reflecting your request will be published.


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Related

Publications

Electoral Registration
Tel: 03451 55 55 11 Contact Electoral Registration online
By Post: Fife House North Street Glenrothes Fife KY7 5LT
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