General Election 2024: What You Need To Know

There’s now just a month to go until we go to the polls and vote in the general election. There’s a lot of information swirling around ahead of it, so hopefully this guide will help cut through and give you all the information you need to know ahead of 4 July.

Key Dates

Here are some of the main dates to make a note of in the runup to the general election.

Who can vote, and how old do you have to be?

If you’re aged 18 or over on polling day and on the electoral register, you can vote in the general election as long as:

  • You’re a British citizen
  • You’re a qualifying Commonwealth citizen
  • Or you’re a Republic of Ireland citizen with a UK address

UK citizens who live abroad can register to vote in the constituency where they previously lived, as long as the aren’t legally excluded from voting.

People who can’t vote in general elections include prisoners who are serving a sentence in jail, or peers in the House of Lords.

What if I’m away from home on polling day? Can I still vote?

Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm on polling day (4 July). But don’t worry if you can’t get to one, there are other options which will allow you to still have a vote.

If you’ve already registered to vote and know you can’t get to a polling station on 4 July, you can apply for a postal vote. Don’t forget, you’ll need to prove you are who you say you are when applying. The deadline for applications is 5pm on Wednesday 19 June.

Another option is to nominate a proxy – this is someone who can vote for you, on your behalf. You’ll both need to be registered to vote. The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 5pm on Wednesday 26 June – and the rules have changed, so if you’ve applied for a proxy vote in the past, and it was before 31 October last year, it will have expired and you’ll need to apply again.

Don’t panic if something comes up meaning you won’t be able to get to the polling station after those deadlines, like work commitments or a medical problem. You can apply for an emergency proxy vote up until 5pm on polling day.

Will I need photo ID?

Yes – voters have needed photo ID at polling stations since May 2023 to vote in person.

There are 22 different forms of photo ID which are accepted. These include:

  • Passports
  • Driving licences
  • Older or disabled person’s bus pass

Out of date photo ID will be accepted provided you look the same.

If you don’t have the correct photo ID, you can register for a free voter authority certificate.

What else do I need to know on polling day?

You’ll need to know where to go, for starters. You can find details of your local polling station online.

You’ll need to make sure you’re there between 7am and 10pm, when the polling station is open, and you’ll need your approved form of photo ID.

You can bring your children with you if you want to – it’s often encouraged, so they can learn about democracy. But they aren’t allowed to mark your vote on the ballot paper.

And what about pets? Strictly speaking, assistance dogs are the only animals allowed into polling stations. But lots of people like to take their four-legged friends with them, and they wait outside the polling stations – and often have their photo taken too! So if you’ve got a good picture of your dog outside the polling station this election, make sure to tag us on social media!