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Register to vote

Voter ID

You may already have a form of photo ID that is acceptable. You can use any of the following:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence (including provisional license)
  • 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

If you don’t already have an accepted form of photo ID, or you’re not sure whether your photo ID still looks like you, you can apply for a free voter ID document, known as a Voter Authority Certificate. Apply for a Voter Authority Certificate

Alternatively, you can complete a paper application form and send this to the electoral services team at your local council.

If you need any help with applying for a Voter Authority Certificate or want to request an application form, contact the Electoral Services Team on: or 0118 937 3717. 

Find more information on voter ID on the Electoral Commission website or call their helpline on 0800 328 0280.

Absent voting

If you cannot get to your local polling station on the day of an election, you can vote by post or apply for a proxy vote. A proxy vote means someone else will be able to cast your vote on your behalf. If you intend to apply for an absent vote, we advise you to do so well in advance to allow the Electoral Services Team to ask you for further evidence to support your application if required. If we do ask for further evidence, please ensure you send in a photocopy or email the document as we do not need the original document.

From 31 October 2023, absent vote applications for all polls in England, UK Parliamentary elections in Scotland and UK Parliamentary and PCC elections in Wales must be verified against DWP data.  When you apply for a postal vote, you will need to supply your National Insurance Number, as well as your name, address, date of birth and signature.  In order that we can verify the identity of the person applying for the postal vote.  Please note, we are unable to accept electronic signatures. 

Postal vote applications will only be valid for a maximum 3 year period. After this period you will have to re-apply. The Electoral Services Team will write to you about this prior to your absent vote expiring.

If you are unable to use the online facility, please contact the Electoral Services Team via email: or telephone: 0118 937 3717.

Apply for a postal vote

Apply for a proxy vote

Returning your absent vote

Please use a Royal Mail postbox to return your completed postal pack.  If you miss the post, you can hand in your postal pack and/or the postal pack of others at the council Office on Bridge Street during office hours, the authorised person will assist you in completing a form. 

Due to new legislation which comes into effect on 2 May 2024, if you leave behind a postal pack or have posted a postal pack through a council letter box without completing a form then your postal pack will get rejected.

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.


Students can register at home or in the place they are at college or university.

If your home and university addresses are in two different local authority areas, you can vote in local elections in both areas.

However, even if you are registered in two areas you can only vote in one at a general election.

Electoral register

Once you register to vote, you are added to the electoral register. There are two versions:

  • the full register – this is used for elections, law enforcement and by credit reference agencies
  • the open register – businesses and charities can contact us to purchase a copy to confirm name and address details

Contact us to exclude your details from the open register.

Viewing the electoral register

To view the register, you will need to go to the Civic Offices and take a ticket for a 10 minute appointment. This service is available Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. You will need to know the person’s address as you cannot search the register by name. Hand-written notes may be taken but no copies of the register can be taken. If you need longer to view the register you will need to contact the Electoral Services team on or 0118 937 3717. Historic records can be viewed at Royal Berkshire Archives.

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 election day.

You can only vote at your designated polling station.

Find your polling station

Polling day

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

Information on registering to vote.

Do I need to take anything with me?

  • remember to bring your photo ID document with you
  • if you prefer you can bring your own pencil or pen

How long will it take?

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.

What happens when I get there?

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 photo ID document.  The staff will give you 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 one.  

How do I complete the ballot paper?

Take your time: read the ballot paper carefully and complete it in line with the 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 already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can give you a replacement ballot paper.

What do I do with the ballot paper then?

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?

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.

What if I have access issues?

If you have a disability which means you can’t 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 you.

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 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 and staff will ask you to stop so that there’s no risk of influencing other voters. If you want to debate your vote with friends or family, do it away from 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 you, 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.


You might 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 any 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.

Last updated on 21/03/2024