You now need to show photo ID at polling stations

Voters in England need to show photo ID when they vote in person at a polling station.

This will apply to:

  • Local elections
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections
  • UK parliamentary by-elections
  • Recall petitions

From October 2023 it will also apply to UK parliamentary elections.

Accepted forms of photo ID

You will only need to show one form of photo ID.  It needs to be the original version and not a photocopy.

View a list of accepted forms of photo ID.

Your photo ID is out of date

You can still use your photo ID if it's out of date, as long as it looks like you.  

You've changed your name but your photo ID is in your old name 

The name on your ID must match your name on the electoral register.

If it doesn't, you will need to either:

  • register to vote again with your new details
  • take a document with you to vote that proves you’ve changed your name (for example, a marriage certificate)

Small differences do not matter, for example if your ID says ‘Jim Smith’ instead of ‘James Smith’.

You don't have an accepted form of photo ID

You can apply for a free voter ID document, known as a Voter Authority Certificate, if:

  • you don't have an accepted form of photo ID
  • you're not sure whether your photo ID still looks like you
  • you're worried about using an existing form of ID for any other reason, such as the use of a gender marker
You need to be registered to vote before applying for a Voter Authority Certificate.  If you are already registered to vote, you don't need to register again - you can contact Electoral Services to check if you are unsure.    

Find out how to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.  

Your application for a Voter Authority Certificate must be accompanied by a suitable photo.  If you're unable to provide a photo that meets the criteria, you can contact Electoral Services to make an appointment to have your photo taken at the Council's offices at County Hall in Dorchester. 

Showing ID if you're an anonymous voter

If you're registered to vote anonymously and want to vote in person, you will need to apply for an Anonymous Elector's Document.  

Your application for an Anonymous Elector's Document must be accompanied by a suitable photo.  If you're unable to provide a photo that meets the criteria, you can contact Electoral Services to make an appointment to have your photo taken at the Council's offices at County Hall in Dorchester. 

Find out more about registering to vote anonymously and how to vote anonymously.  

Showing ID if you've been appointed by someone as their proxy, to vote on their behalf  

If you've been appointed by someone else to vote on their behalf at their polling station, you'll need to take your own photo ID when you go to vote.  You do not need to take their photo ID.  

Read more about the voter ID requirement

Find out more about more about voting by proxy.

Your poll card

It is important you check your poll card, which will be sent to you a few weeks before the election, referendum or poll.  The poll card will show:

  • the election, referendum or poll which is due to take place
  • the date of the election, referendum or poll 
  • your polling station (where you need to go to vote)
If you lose or don't receive your poll card, you can still vote at your polling station.  Only registered anonymous voters need to bring their poll card with them to their polling station.   

Your polling station

Where to go and when

When you vote in person, you must go the polling station allocated to you based on your address on the electoral register, as shown on your poll card.  It might not be the closest one to where to you live, and it might have changed since the last time you voted. 

You can use the Democracy Club's polling station finder service when there is an election due to take place in your area (please note: this service is not available for local government by-elections or parish and town council elections).

Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on the day of the election, referendum or poll and can get busy, especially towards the end of the day.  If there's a queue at your polling station, you will still be able to vote as long as you joined the queue before 10pm.

Who's who at the polling station

You might see some people outside the polling station who will ask for your name and/or other details, including the number on your poll card.  These are "tellers", who volunteer on behalf of candidates and use the information collected from voters to check who has voted and to remind those who haven't voted to do so.  They are allowed to do this but you don't have to give them any information if you don't want to.  If you have any concerns  about the conduct of a teller, speak to a member of staff at the polling station.

Polling station staff will be located inside the polling station and will be wearing badges marked either "Presiding Officer" or "Poll Clerk".  If you need any help, please just ask.  Our polling station staff will be happy to assist you to cast your vote.  

How to vote in the polling station

  1. When you go into the polling station, you will see the polling station staff sat next to the ballot box.  Tell them your name and address, or give them your poll card if you have brought it with you.  You don't need your poll card to vote unless you are a registered anonymous voter but it can help to speed up the process.
  2. If you are voting in an election that requires photo ID, you will need to show photo ID to vote (see above for more details and view a list of acceptable photo ID documents).  Polling station staff will check that it's acceptable.  If you wear a face covering for any reason, such as a mask worn on medical grounds or a face veil worn on religious grounds, you will be asked to remove it so polling station staff can check your ID looks like you.  You can ask to have your ID checked in private behind a privacy screen.  You can also request that a female member of staff checks your ID.  This request will be granted if possible.  There will be a mirror available in the polling station to allow you to replace your face covering once your ID has been checked.
  3. The polling station staff will then give you a ballot paper containing a list of the people, parties or the options you can vote for.  You might be given more than one ballot paper if there is more than one election, referendum or poll taking place in your local area on the same day.
  4. Take your ballot paper (or papers) into a polling booth so that you can vote in secret. 
  5. Read the instructions on the notices in the polling booth and on the top of the ballot paper(s) carefully.  Some elections, referendums or polls use different voting methods, so you need to make sure you fill in each ballot paper correctly.
  6. Complete your ballot paper(s) using the pencil provided in the polling booth, or you can use your own pen if you want.  Don't write anything else on the paper, or your vote may not be counted.
  7. If you make a mistake, ask the polling station staff for a replacement ballot paper and fill it in again.  You can only have a replacement ballot paper if you have not already put your ballot paper in the ballot box.
  8. Once you've completed marking your ballot paper(s), fold each ballot paper separately and put it in the ballot box.  If there is more than one election, referendum or poll on the same day, there may be more than one ballot box in use.  Polling station staff will tell you which box to put each ballot paper in.

Taking photos

Taking photos inside the polling station isn't allowed as it might risk the secrecy of the ballot.

Help available for disabled voters

We offer a range of support to voters with disabilities, including people with a learning disability.  Our polling station staff are trained to help voters with disabilities cast their vote so if you need any assistance, please just ask.  Read more about the help available for disabled voters.