Local Borough Elections 2023

On Thursday 4 May 2023 residents in Reading borough will go to the polls at the local borough elections to have their say on who represents them.

Important dates and deadlines

The deadline to apply to register to vote is midnight on Monday 17 April 2023.

Postal and postal proxy applications must be received by the Electoral Registration Office by 5pm on Tuesday 18 April 2023 (including changes to existing postal, proxy and postal proxy votes).

Proxy applications must be received by the Electoral Registration Office by 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023.

The deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate for this local election is 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023. You need to be registered to vote before you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.

Voter ID

The UK government has introduced a requirement for voters to show photo ID when voting at a polling station at some elections. This new requirement will apply for the first time in England at the local elections on Thursday 4 May 2023.

An example of some of the forms of ID you can use are:

  • passport
  • driving licence
  • Blue Badge
  • certain concessionary travel cards
  • identity card with PASS mark (Proof of Age Standards Scheme)
  • biometric immigration document
  • defence identity card
  • certain national identity cards

More information on acceptable forms of photo ID. You can also call their helpline on 0800 328 0280.

If you don’t have an accepted form of photo ID

If you don’t have an accepted form of photo ID or you are unsure whether your photo ID still looks like you, you will be able to apply for a free voter ID document. This is known as a Voter Authority Certificate and you will be able to apply for it from late January.

Find out more about Voter Authority Certificates.

Apply for a Voter Authority Certificate

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the election? What elections are taking place?

Local borough elections are taking place on Thursday 4 May 2023.

Who is eligible to vote in these elections?

  • You must be registered to vote (deadline to register is midnight on Monday 17 April 2023)
  • You must be 18 or over on the day of the election day (‘polling day’)
  • You must be a British, Irish, Commonwealth or EU citizen
  • You must be registered at an address in the area you want to vote in
  • You must not be legally excluded from voting

How can I vote at the May 2023 elections?

There are several ways to have you say in May 2023. You can vote in a polling station, by post, or by appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf known as a proxy vote.

Polling stations

Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm

Please be aware that your polling station and ward name may have changed. We ask you to ensure you check the information on your poll card so that you know where to vote on 4 May 2023.

Poll cards

You don’t need your poll card to vote.

If you don’t have your poll card you can go to the polling station and give them your name and address. You must remember to take your photo ID with you.

If you haven’t received a polling card but think you should have, please contact us to check your registration on 0118 937 3717 or elections@reading.gov.uk.

How do I register to vote?

The deadline to apply to register to vote is midnight on Monday 17 April 2023.

If you are already registered, you do not need to re-register to vote.

To vote in any election in the UK you must be registered to vote. It takes 5 minutes to register. Register to vote online.

If you’re unable to register online, you can apply by post. Download the relevant registration forms or request a form be sent to you by ringing us on 0118 937 3717 or email elections@reading.gov.uk.

Requirement for documentary evidence

In some cases, we may require more evidence from you. This is when we have been unable to confirm your identity which we are required to do by law in order to process your application.

If this happens, we will let you know and request further evidence. Until we receive this evidence, we will be unable to add you to the electoral register.

Please provide a copy rather than the original document. You can submit your evidence in two ways:

  • by emailing a clear photo (taken on a phone is fine) or scan of the document to elections@reading.gov.uk
  • by sending a photocopy of the document to us by post to: Reading Borough Council, Electoral Services, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU

How can I apply to vote by post or proxy?

Postal and postal proxy applications deadline is 5pm on Tuesday 18 April 2023 including changes to existing postal, proxy and postal proxy votes.

Proxy applications deadline is 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023.

To apply to vote by post you need to download, print and complete a postal vote application form or request a form be sent to you by ringing us on 0118 937 3717 or email elections@reading.gov.uk. Once you have completed the form and signed it, you need to send it to the Electoral Services Team. You can do this by email at elections@reading.gov.uk or post to Reading Borough Council, Electoral Services, Civic Offices, Reading, Berkshire RG1 2LU.

If you are thinking about voting by post, you can apply to do this now. This will make sure your application is processed early and your postal vote can be sent to your more quickly once the candidates for the elections are confirmed.

If you are not able to cast your vote in person, you can ask someone you trust to cast your vote for you. This is called a proxy vote. The person casting your vote is often referred to as your proxy. Your proxy can either go to your polling station to cast your vote or can apply to vote for you by post.

To apply for a proxy vote complete the form to vote by proxy, explaining why you can’t get to your polling station in person or request for a form to be sent to your by ringing us on 0118 937 3717 or email elections@reading.gov.uk.

Please not we do not make up and send postal vote packs from our office. They are made up and sent by our printing company and we have just two scheduled mails.

Despatch dates

  • poll cards – 29 March 2023 and 25 April 2023 (NB you do not need a poll card to vote)
  • postal and postal proxy packs – 17 April 2023 and 24 April 2023

Please note if you have a postal vote in place by 16 March 2023, your postal vote pack will be sent to your on or around 17 April 2023.

If you apply for a postal vote after 16 March 2023 but before 5pm on 18 April 2023, your postal vote pack will be sent to you on or around 24 April 2023.

However, it cannot be guaranteed that they will be delivered then. Although they will be sent first class there is also no guarantee that they will be delivered the day after they have been posted. Therefore, if you are going to be away and the postal papers are due to be sent to your home address you may need to consider changing that arrangement to be on the safe side.

Is voting by post safe?

Yes, voting by post is safe and proven cases of electoral fraud are rare. When voting by post, you should mark your vote on the ballot paper in secret and seal the envelope yourself.

You will also be asked to give your date of birth and signature when applying for a postal or proxy vote. This makes postal voting safe, because when you return your postal voting pack your signature and date of birth are checked against those you provided before to confirm your identity.

Your signature and date of birth are separated from your ballot paper before it is looked at or counted, so giving this information will not affect the secrecy of your vote.

A guide to polling day

Everything you need to know about voting in person.

Where is your polling station?

If you are registered to vote you will receive a poll card through the post from Reading Borough Council. It will tell you where your polling station is. Make sure you check your poll card before heading out to vote, in case your polling station has changed since your last voted. You can also find out where your polling station is on the Electoral Commission‘s website by entering your postcode.

Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm. You can vote at any time within this window.

You must vote at your designated polling station. You cannot go to a different one.

What do I have to take with me?

Remember to bring your photo ID document with you

If you prefer you can bring your own pencil or pen.

What happens when I get there?

It should only take a few minutes to vote. If you are asked to queue please be patient and we will work to enable you to vote as quickly as possible. If you are still in a queue waiting to vote at 10pm you will be able to vote before the polls close.

Polling station staff will be on hand to greet you and invite you in as soon as polls open at 7am.

Once you have shown the polling station staff your ID document you will be given a ballot paper listing who you can vote for.

Take your ballot paper into a polling booth. There will be a shelf for you to lean and write on. Use your own pencil or pen, or if you forgot to bring one, ask the poll clerks for a clean one.

How do I complete the ballot paper?

Take your time. Read the ballot paper carefully and complete it in line with instructions.

Don’t write anything else on the paper or your vote may not be counted.

If you make a mistake don’t worry. If you haven’t put it in the polling box, let the polling station staff know and they can give you a replacement ballot paper.

Once you’re done, fold your completed ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box. This will be on the desk beside the polling station staff.

What if I need help or have access issues?

If you’re not sure what to do or need any help, just ask the staff at the polling station they will be happy to assist you.

If you have a disability which means you cannot fill in the ballot paper yourself, you can ask the presiding officer (the person in charge of the polling station) to mark the ballot paper for you, or you can take someone along with you to help.

If you have a visual impairment, you can ask for a large print ballot paper to refer to when you cast your vote, or a special tactile voting device that is designed so you can mark your ballot paper on your own.

Should I tell anyone who I voted for?

Your vote is yours and yours alone. You do not need to tell anyone how you voted.

Exit polls are sometimes conducted, where people (usually private companies working for newspapers or broadcasters) ask voters leaving the polling station who they voted for to help them predict what the outcome of the election might be. You do not need to respond to their questions if you don’t want to.

Political discussion is not allowed inside and immediately around the polling station. If you are heard saying anything, staff will ask you to stop so that there’s no risk of influencing other voters. If you want to discuss your vote with friends and family, do it away from the polling station.

What are tellers? Why are they asking for the number on my poll card?

You may see people outside the polling station who ask you for the number on your poll card. These people are called ‘tellers’ and are volunteering on behalf of candidates or parties. They will use the information you give them to check who has voted and to remind people who haven’t yet voted to do so.

They are allowed to be there and to ask for the information, but you don’t have to give them information if you don’t want to. If you are concerned about the conduct of a teller, speak to a member of staff at the polling station.

Can I take selfies or other photos while I’m voting?

You shouldn’t take photos inside the polling station as it might put the secrecy of the ballot at risk.

You are more than welcome to take photos outside the polling station and share them on social media to encourage your friends and family to vote.

Can I take my friend/partner/children/parents/dog?

You can go along to the polling station with whomever you like, but only those registered to vote at that station will be able to go inside. You must not be accompanied into the polling booth by another adult, unless you have a disability, in which case you can take someone in to help you or you can ask one of the polling station staff for their help.

Children are welcome at polling stations. While your child must not mark the ballot paper for your, you will be allowed to take them into the polling booth with you.

Animals, apart from assistance dogs, are not usually allowed inside polling stations, so will need to be secured outside if you do decide to take them with you.