When is the deadline to register to vote and do you have to do it for every election?

Local elections will take place across the UK next month as voters choose which local candidates they want to represent them. Every voter in the UK has to be registered – and the deadline to get it done is now fast approaching.

Votes take place on Thursday, May 5, and are happening in every nation of the UK. Every council seat will be up for grabs across Scotland, Wales and London, while many other parts of England will also be voting for new councilors and mayors. A new Northern Ireland assembly will also be elected.

Anyone wanting to cast their ballot in the local elections will need to be registered on the gov.uk website. The deadline for registering in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is April 14 at 11.59pm, while the deadline for registering in Scotland is April 18.

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To register to vote, you must be aged 16 or over (or 14 or over in Scotland and Wales). You must also be either a British citizen, an Irish or EU citizen living in the UK, a Commonwealth citizen with permission to stay in the UK, or a citizen of another country living in Scotland or Wales who has permission to enter or stay in the UK.

Only people who are aged 18 or over can vote in the elections, although people aged 16 or over are allowed to vote in certain elections in Scotland and Wales.

There are also deadlines for voters who want to apply for either a postal or proxy vote. People who cannot vote in person on the day may choose to cast their vote either by posting it in advance, or by nominating another person to do it for them.

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The deadline for registering for a postal vote in England, Scotland and Wales is April 19, while the deadline for registering for a proxy vote is April 26.

According to gov.uk, you normally only need to register to vote once – not for every election. However, you’ll need to register again if you’ve changed your name, address or nationality – and this must be done before the deadline to ensure you will be able to vote in the upcoming contests. To update your details you need to register again, even if you’ve already registered before.

Ailsa Irvine, director of electoral administration and guidance at the Electoral Commission, said: “With only a week to go to the registration deadline, time is running out to make sure you can take part in the May elections.

“These elections are an important opportunity to make your voice heard and have a say in who represents you on issues that directly affect day-to-day life.

“It’s quick and easy to register – it takes just five minutes online at www.gov.uk/registertovote. All you need is your name, date of birth and national insurance number.

“If you have recently become eligible to vote or moved home, it is particularly important that you make sure you are correctly registered. If you were registered to vote in the last election and your details have not changed, you don’t need to take any action.”

You can register to vote online here. When you register or change your details you will be asked for your name, address and National Insurance number. If you cannot get online you can also register using a paper form.

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If you need to check your registration details, or if you are not sure whether you are already registered, you can contact your local Electoral Registration Office (ERO) here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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