How to Vote in the UK Local Elections Tomorrow
Local council elections are taking place tomorrow on Thursday the 2nd of May 2019. Even though local councils have nothing to do with Brexit, the conservatives are braced for a “Brexit rebellion” at the polling booth tomorrow. This presents a great opportunity to kick the tories out of local councils if we can capitalise on it. However, local elections traditionally have a much lower turnout than the bigger general elections, especially amongst young people. So I’m here with a simple step by step guide on how to participate in this little bit of local democracy.
Make sure you are registered to vote. That’s a biggie. If you are unsure, you can double check with your local council by entering your postcode here and contacting them directly, but as the elections are tomorrow, it is too late to register if you haven’t already. You can register to vote here if you haven’t already, make sure you do it before Tuesday the 7th of May to vote in the almost certain to happen European elections. It takes less than 5 minutes to do so there’s no excuse to not be registered.
If you’re a student, you can vote in local elections at both your home and term time address. You have to be registered at both addresses and unless you plan on traveling across the country to vote in both places on the same day tomorrow then you would have had to set up a postal vote before now, but it’s worth remembering for next time.
Check if there is a local election happening in your ward. The term for a councillor is 4 years but when they are elected varies depending on where you live. Some councils vote by halves, where half of the seats are up for grabs every 2 years. Some vote by thirds, there a third of the seats are up for grabs every year with the fourth year off. And some hold entire council elections every 4 years. Ah, the simplicities of British government. To find out if there’s an election for you to vote in, enter your postcode here (you have to scroll down a bit). I don’t have anything to vote for, which is why I’m spending my time making sure all of you do.
Do some research on the candidates. If you’ve searched your postcode and you do have council elections, then you’ll see a list of the candidates running. Google the name of your ward (the council seat you are voting for) and you’ll probably find that some local news source has written a lovely article comparing the policies of all of the candidates. If you don’t have any luck with that, you can google the individual candidates and find out what platforms they are campaigning on. You can also google for the parties local election manifestos, but as local issues vary a lot around the country, these can be very vague and not all that helpful. In an ideal world you would then vote for the candidate that best represents you views.
We don’t live in an ideal world. Wake up, sheeple. Thanks to our antiquated first past the post system, if 34% vote for the conservatives, 33% for labour and 33% for the greens, we wouldn’t get a nice democratic mix of the three, the ward would go to the conservative candidate. So we are forced to vote tactically. Check the voting history of your area. A good place to start is to scroll down a little and put your postcode in here to find out who got what share of the vote in the 2018 local elections. You might also want to go back a few more years to find out if you live in a swing area. If it is close between the conservatives and labour but you are a green voter, then it is more important to keep the conservatives out of local government than it is to waste a vote on a smaller candidate that won’t get elected. If you’re planning on voting conservative, then what an earth are you doing reading Boshemia? Have you been paying attention to anything we say here?
Find out where to go to vote. The link in step 3 will tell you where your local polling station is. Every polling station will open at 7am and close at 10pm. If you are in line when it closes, then you will still be able to cast your vote. Do not let anyone turn you away. You don’t need ID to vote, unless you live in an area where the government is trialing its stupid voter ID system. Check if you live in any of the 11 councils taking part in the trial here. Otherwise, just show up at some point in the day and vote.
There you have it. It couldn’t be any easier. Well it definitely could. And if our arcane voting system frustrates you, then the very good news is that we might have our final chance to vote in the EU elections on the 23rd of May. They use proportional representation, so you can actually vote for the party you want to. A novel concept, I know. I’ll be back before then with another explainer.
In the meantime, happy voting!