Some Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I register to vote?
What elections are likely in the near future in Mid Sussex?
The next Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner election will take place in May 2016.
The next County Council elections are due in May 2017 (Every four years).
The next European Parliamentary elections are due in May 2019 (Every five years).
Elections for the District Council take place every four years. The next are scheduled to take place in May 2019.
Parish and Town Council elections take place at the same time as District Council elections.
The next UK Parliamentary elections will take place by May 2020.
A Parliamentary General election or a by-election could in theory be called at any time, therefore it is worth ensuring you are registered to vote even when no elections are planned.
How often are elections to local authorities held?
Local authority elections in England, Wales and Scotland are normally held on the first Thursday in May. Members are elected for a 4 year fixed term, unless they are filling a mid-term vacancy. All local authorities are divided into Wards (or Electoral Divisions) for electoral purposes. Electors can vote up to the number of vacancies to be filled in their Ward (or Electoral Division). Local elections are contested under the first past the post system.
How do I vote?
If your name is on the electoral register and your are aged 18 or over, you should get a poll card a few weeks before an election. The poll card will tell you where to vote and the times that the polling station will be open, but you can still vote if you forget your poll card. Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm for all elections.
Does it matter if I lose my poll card?
No, you can still vote without it. The key thing is that your name is included on the register. The poll card is for information only. It just makes it easier if you take it to the polling station and show it to the clerk there. The clerk will confirm your name and address, give you a ballot paper and check your name off on the register.
The ballot paper will say how many candidates you can vote for. Take the ballot paper to one of the polling booths and put a cross (X) in the box next to the name of the candidate(s) you want to support.
Do not write anything else on the ballot paper or your vote will not be counted. Once you have voted you must fold the ballot paper to hide your vote. Show your folded ballot paper to the clerk before you put it in the locked ballot box. You don't have to tell anyone whom you voted for.
What happens if I make a mistake on my ballot paper?
If you make a mistake on your ballot paper show it to the clerk at the station and ask for another one, do not put the spoilt paper in the ballot box. The clerk will issue you with a new paper and put your spoilt paper in a sealed envelope.
I have just found out that I will be away on polling day. Can I still vote?
See our page on Postal/Proxy voting for information on absent voting.
I have just had my 18th birthday, do I have to wait until the next electoral register is prepared before I can vote?
No. As soon as you are 18 you can vote provided that you (or your parents) included your name on the annual canvass form that they returned in the autumn.
I thought voting was secret. Why does the clerk write elector number against the ballot paper number on their list? And why is there a number on the back of my ballot paper?
It is a legal requirement that elector numbers are written next to the ballot paper number on the corresponding number list. The procedure exists to detect and prove any possible abuses or fraud. There are safeguards to prevent the two numbers being linked: at the end of the poll, the corresponding number lists are sealed in a secure packet and this is not opened at the count. At the end of the count the counted ballot papers are also sealed in a separate secure packet. After the election the sealed packets are held in separate secure locations within the Council Offices. The sealed packets can only be reunited and opened by an Order from the High Court or County Court, provided that the Court is satisfied that an Order is needed to help prosecute for an election offence. Even then it is very rare for the corresponding number lists to be examined except in cases where fraud or personation are being investigated.
Because of the safeguards it is virtually impossible for any person to be in a position to identify a ballot paper. The procedure is there to protect the integrity of the democratic process and not to undermine it. Electors can be confident that the ballot remains secret.
Who are the people who ask for my poll number when I leave the polling station?
These people are called tellers and are used by each of the main political parties to help with their election campaigns. They have no standing in electoral law and not connected with the official election process. You don't have to give them your poll number if you don't want to.
What happens after the voting has finished?
Immediately after voting has finished, the ballot box is sealed by the staff to ensure that nothing can be added or taken from the box. The box is taken to the count location where the contents are counted with the ballot papers from other polling stations. The candidate(s) who receives most votes is declared the victor and has been elected to the position contested.
Who is eligible to vote?
See our page on registering to vote.
Why do I receive a Voter Registration form every Year?
See our page on the Annual Canvass for information on what to do with your form.
How do I inspect the electoral roll?
The current Full Electoral Register for Mid Sussex is available for inspection, under supervision, at the Oaklands offices during office hours. The Edited Register can be viewed at public libraries and Help Points in the district.
Please note that the registers are in alphabetical street order by polling district. There is no search by surname facility available.
If you are researching your family history then it is advisable to check the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths' website.
What should I do if I have any other questions about elections or voting?
Contact the Elections Section, Mid Sussex District Council, Oaklands, Haywards Heath RH16 1SS. You can phone us on 01444 477003 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information on Elections and Electoral Registration in the UK please visit http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/. If you are interested in electoral matters the Electoral Commission is an independent body that oversees elections in this country. Their website can be found at www.electoralcommission.org.uk