Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

European Parliamentary Election - Frequently Asked Questions

We have provided answers to frequently asked questions relating to the European Parliamentary Election taking place on May 22 2014. Select a question to find out the answer.

Questions

Registration

How do I know if I am registered to vote?

How do I register to vote?

I have missed the deadline for registering to vote. What should I do?

Am I eligible to register to vote?

If I pay Council Tax, am I automatically registered?

I’m a student and I’m not sure where I should register to vote?

What are the full and edited registers?

Postal and Proxy Voting

Who can apply for a postal vote?

What is the deadline for applying for a postal vote for the forthcoming election?

How do I get a postal vote?

When are the postal ballot packs due to be issued?

For what period does my postal vote last?

How does the postal voting statement work?

Why do I have to give my date of birth and signature? How is it secret?

How secure is a postal vote?

I opted for a postal vote but I don’t want to post it / I’m too late to post it

Who can apply for a proxy vote?

What is the deadline for applying for a proxy vote?

I’ve been appointed as proxy for someone and I don’t know how it works

I can’t sign or sign in a consistent manner

How / Where to Vote

What is the date of the European Parliamentary Election?

How do I find out where my polling station is?

What are the hours of poll?

What methods of voting are there?

How do I fill in the ballot papers?

Disabled Voters

What provision is made for people with disabilities?

What provisions are made for blind or visually impaired voters?

The Election in Your Area

What elections are taking place on 22 May

Who is standing in the election?

Where can I get information about the candidates?

The Count

How does the count work?

How are the votes counted?

When will the results be announced?

The Electoral Commission

What is the Electoral Commission?

 

Answers

Registration

How do I know if I am registered to vote?

The electoral registration office can tell you.  Please phone them on 01856 876222 or email them at ero@orkney.gov.uk .

However, if your household completed the annual canvass form that came through your door last autumn / winter with your details, you should still be registered.

You will need to register again if you have moved since then.

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How do I register to vote?

By completing a form and returning it to the electoral registration office at the following address:

Electoral Registration Officer, Orkney and Shetland VJB, 8 Broad Street, Kirkwall, KW15 1NX.

You can also download a form from www.aboutmyvote.co.uk .

The deadline for registration is 6 May.

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I have missed the deadline for registering to vote. What should I do?

You will not be able to vote at this election.  However, you can register for future elections if you wish.
Contact the electoral registration office on 01856 876222 to check if you are registered.

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Am I eligible to register to vote?

You can only vote if you are registered. You can register if:

  • You are 17 or over (but you cannot vote until your 18th birthday).

And

  • You are a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen (ie. you have leave to enter or remain in the UK or don’t require leave to enter or to remain in the UK) permanently living in the UK.
  • Other European Union citizens permanently living in the UK can register to vote at local government elections and European Parliamentary elections but not UK Parliamentary elections.

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If I pay Council Tax, am I automatically registered?

No. Electoral registration is a separate process performed by your local Electoral Registration Officer. There are different requirements to be able to register to vote than to pay Council Tax so one cannot be used to automatically add names to the other.

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I am a student and I am not sure where I should register to vote?

Students may be entitled to register at either or both their home address and their college / university (term time) address.

However, they must only once at any contest i.e. only once in any single counting area at this European Parliamentary election.

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What are the full and edited registers?

There are two versions of the electoral register of electors:

  • The full register includes the names of all those registered to vote in a local area and is used for electoral and limited statutory purposes only. One of these purposes is credit referencing.
  • The edited register can be sold on to anyone for any purpose and includes the names of all those who have not ‘opted out’ of their details being included on it. You can opt out when you register.

Contact the Electoral Registration Office on 01856 876222 for further information.

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Postal and Proxy Voting

Who can apply for a postal vote?

  • Anyone who is registered to vote.
  • If you are not registered to vote, you can submit a postal vote application form alongside your registration form.
  • You can download postal voting forms from www.aboutmyvote.co.uk or get them from the election registration office on 01856 876222.

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What is the deadline for applying for a postal vote for the forthcoming election?

  • If you are already registered, your application must be received by 17:00 on 7 May.
  • If you are not yet registered, the deadline is also 17:00 on 7 May, but your application to register must have reached the electoral registration office by 6 May.
  • You will only receive a postal vote for this election if you have applied to register by that time.

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How do I get a postal vote?

You can download an application form from www.aboutmyvote.co.uk or get one from the Electoral Registration Office on 01856 876222.

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When are the postal ballot packs due to be issued?

The postal ballot packs are due to be issued around 2 May 2014.

If it hasn’t arrived before polling day, or you subsequently lose it, you can get a replacement ballot paper in person from the Elections Office up until 17:00 on polling day. You will need to provide identification when requesting a replacement ballot paper.

If you have spoilt your ballot paper or postal voting statement, you can get a replacement from the Elections Office until 17:00 on polling day. Do not destroy or throw away your postal ballot papers as you will need to return them before you can get a replacement.

For replacement ballot papers and / or postal voting statements, please contact the Elections Office on 01856 873535 ext 2230 to arrange a convenient time for the replacement to be made.

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For what period does my postal vote last?

You can apply for a specific election, a specific time period or for a permanent one which lasts until you cancel it or move home.

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How does the postal voting statement work?

  • This document will arrive in your postal vote pack alongside your ballot paper. It must be completed or your vote will not count.
  • You will need to provide your signature and date of birth. This will be checked against the signature and date of birth you previously supplied to the electoral registration officer.
  • More details will be provided in your postal ballot pack or you can contact the Election Office at the Council Offices for more information on 01856 873535 ext 2230.

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Why do I have to give my date of birth and signature? How is it secret?

  • When you apply for a postal (or proxy) vote you must provide your date of birth and signature.
  • When you get your postal ballot paper there will be a separate statement on which you will be asked for the same details. This is for security reasons and the details must match those you previously provided for your vote to be counted.
  • However, rest assured that the statement is separated from the ballot paper when it is received. This happens before the sealed ballot paper envelope is opened and the vote is counted. This keeps your vote secret; no one will be able to find out how you voted.

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How secure is a postal vote?

It is an offence to complete a postal vote that is not your own, or to intimidate voters. If you have any allegations of fraud, they should be referred to the police and/or the elections office.

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I opted for a postal vote but I don’t want to post it / I’m too late to post it

  • No problem. You can drop your ballot paper pack off on polling day at the elections office at the Council Offices, School Place, Kirkwall up to 17:00, or to any polling station in the area. Make sure you do it before 22:00.
  • You cannot be given another ballot paper at the polling station.
  • Contact the Elections Office on 01856 873535 ext 2230 to find out where the polling stations are situated.

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Who can apply for a proxy vote?

To vote by proxy for the forthcoming election only, you must have a reason e.g. you will be away on holiday, you are away on business.

Only those with a specific reason such as a disability or being overseas can apply to vote by proxy for a definite or indefinite period of time. Contact your Electoral Registration Office on 01856 876222 for more information and an application form or you can download a form from www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.

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What is the deadline for applying for a proxy vote?

  • If you are amending an existing proxy vote or changing from postal to proxy, you must return your application by 17:00 on 7 May.
  • New proxy applications (where you were previously going to vote at a polling station) must be received by 17:00 on 14 May.

You can apply to vote by proxy for emergency medical reasons or if you are called away unexpectedly for work reasons up until 17:00 on polling day.

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I’ve been appointed as proxy for someone and I don’t know how it works

  • It’s simple to vote as someone’s proxy. You vote in the same way as any other elector.
  • You should ask the person who has appointed you as their proxy how to vote on their behalf.
  • You will be sent a proxy poll card with details of where you should go to vote. This will be near to where the person who appointed you lives.
  • If you can’t attend the polling station you can vote as proxy by post, but you must apply by 17:00 on 7 May.
  • If you are going to the polling station just tell the staff there that you are voting as a proxy and they will tell you what to do.
  • Don’t forget to take your proxy poll card – although you don’t need it to vote, this will speed up the ballot paper issuing process.

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I can’t sign or sign in a consistent manner

There is a special system if you can’t sign or sign in a consistent manner. You will need to complete a special application form which you can get from the electoral registration office by contacting them on 01856 876222 or ero@orkney.gov.uk .

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How / Where to Vote

What is the date of the European Parliamentary Election?

22 May 2014.

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How do I find out where my polling station is?

Your poll card should tell you the location of your polling station.

Alternatively, contact the Elections Office on 01856 873535 ext 2230.

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What are the hours of poll?

Polling hours are between 07:00 - 22:00.

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What methods of voting are there?

In person at the polling station.

Absent voting:

  • By post (no reason is needed).
  • By proxy (need to give particular reason for one-off, need to meet certain criteria for a proxy for a period of time).

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How do I fill in the ballot papers?

Information will be provided by the polling clerk at the polling station or, if you opted to vote by post, it will be in your ballot pack.

There will be instructions on the top of the ballot paper which you should read.
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Disabled Voters

What provision is made for people with disabilities?

There are different options for casting your vote:

  • At a polling station.
  • By post.
  • By appointing a proxy to vote on your behalf.

Most polling stations will be fully accessible. The staff are trained and have access to equipment to assist disabled electors to vote in secret or with the assistance of polling station staff.

Disabled electors may also bring a companion to assist them to vote at the polling station.

Contact the Elections Office on 01856 873535 ext 2230 for details of the access to any polling station and the assistance that will be available.

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What provisions are made for blind or visually impaired voters?

  • Tactile voting templates and large print versions of ballot papers are available at all polling stations.
  • You can take a companion with you (close relative or elector qualified to vote) to assist you, or ask the presiding officer at the polling station for help.

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The Election in Your Area

What elections are taking place on 22 May

A European Parliamentary election is being held throughout the UK.

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Who is standing in the election?

  • The statement of persons nominated is available on the Orkney Islands Council website and is also displayed on notice boards at the Council’s Kirkwall and Stromness Customer Services points and libraries.
  • Nomination of parties and candidates for the European Parliamentary election is organised by the Regional Returning Officer for the region.

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Where can I get information about the candidates?

  • You will need to contact the candidates/parties. Most candidates/parties post leaflets through letter boxes during election time, put up posters, hold meetings, knock on doors or have websites with information.
  • The statement of persons nominated is available on the Orkney Islands Council website and is also displayed on notice boards at the Council’s Kirkwall and Stromness Customer Services points and libraries.

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The Count

How does the count work?

  • The ballot papers will be counted on Sunday 25 May 2014 by the local Returning Officer and their staff.
  • The local totals are sent to the Regional Returning Officer who will collate the local totals from all the local councils and announce who the winners are.
  • The system used is called proportional representation.

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How are the votes counted?

  • Each region is allocated a number of MEPs, based on its population.
  • The ballot paper lists political parties and independent candidates. Under each party name is a list of candidates who wish to represent that party.
  • Put an X (a cross) next to the party or independent candidate that you wish to vote for.
  • The total number of votes cast for each party and independent candidate in is added up for the whole region. The MEP seats are awarded to a party’s candidates in the order of the list, or to independent candidates, using a quota system.

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When will the results be announced?

  • The Regional Returning Officer will announce the result of the European Parliamentary election when all the local counts are finished and the regional result has been calculated. This will be on Monday 26 May 2014.
  • The Regional Returning Officer and the elections office will publish information and results.
  • Local media often publish results after the election.

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The Electoral Commission

What is the Electoral Commission?

  • An independent body, not part of government, that regulates party and election finance and sets standards for well-run elections and electoral registration. More information is available at the Electoral Commission website or by telephone on 0800 3280 280.

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