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Electoral registration and voting

Individual Electoral Registration is coming soon - from 10 June 2014 Individual Electoral Registration (IER) is being introduced in England and Wales. This is the biggest change to how people register to vote in almost a hundred years but most people on the current register will be transferred automatically to the IER register without having to do anything.

Suffolk Coastal has a total population of over 127,000 people, of which over 94,000 are eligible to vote. Our elections team is responsible for maintaining the electoral register for the Suffolk Coastal district.

Who can register to vote? 

You have to be 18 or older to vote. You can register to vote when you are 16.

People who are entitled to vote in elections in the UK:

  • British citizens.
  • Citizens of the Irish Republic.
  • Citizens of other European Union countries - EU citizens will be registered as local government electors only (except citizens of Cyprus, Malta and the Irish Republic, who can vote in all elections). For more information about registering to vote in European Parliamentary elections, please contact us on 01394 444685.
  • Qualifying Commonwealth citizens - this means Commonwealth citizens who have leave to enter or remain in the UK or do not require such leave.
  • Citizens of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or a British Overseas Territory living in the UK.

Follow this link for a full list of the nationalities entitled to register to vote in elections in the UK.

You can register only for the address where you are resident. Students may register at both their home and college addresses.

Second home owners are able to register if they make a declaration stating that they spend an average of 2 to 3 days a week at their second home.

Why should I register? 

  • If you do not register then you cannot exercise your democratic right to vote in any election.
  • It is much harder to obtain credit if you are not on the register.
  • The Council may take legal proceedings against householders who fail to return their registration form.

How do I get my name on the electoral register? 

From 10 June 2014 Individual Electoral Registration (IER) is being introduced in England and Wales. Any new application to register to vote will have to be made individually. With IER, for the first time, you can register online - this is the simplest and quickest way to register.

In order to apply, you will need to provide your National Insurance Number and date of birth. Remember that each person over 18 in the household will need to apply individually.

You can also apply on a paper form which we will send to you pre-filled with the information we already know - just call us on 01394 444685 or email elections.scdc@eastsuffolk.gov.uk.

What are the 'full' and 'edited' registers? 

Every year, two versions of the electoral register are produced - the full register and the edited register. Your name and address will appear on the full register, but you can choose whether or not your details appear on the edited register by ticking the box on the registration form.

The full register contains the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote. You can view the full register at any area electoral office. Only certain organisations are allowed to have copies of the full register. It can only be used for electoral purposes, crime prevention and detection, and the vetting of applicants for credit. It is a criminal offence to use it for any unauthorised purpose or to pass it on to anyone else.

The edited register is available for general sale and can be used for any purpose, including commercial activities such as marketing. It excludes the names and addresses of people who have opted out by ticking a box on the registration form.

If you feel your safety is at risk by having your name on the register please contact us on 01394 444685.

How can I view the register? 

The full register can be checked at our Woodbridge offices. However, anyone checking the full register must be supervised and they may only make hand written notes. Anyone wishing to make an extended search should telephone 01394 444685 to make appropriate arrangements.

A copy of the edited register is available for inspection at the reception desk at our Woodbridge offices.

How do I know when to vote? 

Approximately three weeks before an election each member of the household who is eligible to vote should receive either:

  • A poll card informing them about the date of the election, where their polling station is and the hours of the poll and how to vote. You do not need to take the poll card with you to be able to vote.
  • Information about their postal or proxy voting arrangements and what to do if these need to be changed.

If neither document is received, it may be that you are not on the electoral register. You can register to vote by contacting us on 01394 444685 or emailing elections.scdc@eastsuffolk.gov.uk and we will send you a partially completed form ready for your signature.

Voting by post or proxy 

From 10 June 2014 Individual Electoral Registration (IER) is being introduced in England and Wales. Anyone wishing to vote by post or proxy at the 2015 General Election will have to be registered under IER. Most people will be automatically transferred to the IER register and will keep their post or proxy votes without having to do anything further - follow this link for more information about IER.

There are three different ways you can vote. Many people vote in person at a polling station. However, if you don't want to go the polling station in person on election day or you are not able to, you can apply to vote by post or by proxy (someone voting on your behalf).

If you want to apply to vote by post or by proxy, contact us on 01394 444685 or email elections.scdc@eastsuffolk.gov.uk and we can send you a partially completed form ready for your signature.

Alternatively, you can go to the aboutmyvote website to complete or download an application form, which you'll need to print off, sign and send to us at the address below.

Postal votes are usually sent out about two weeks before election day. Once you’ve got it, mark your vote on the ballot paper (or ballot papers if there is more than one election taking place in your area) and send it back to us as soon as possible but make sure we receive it by close of poll or your vote won’t be counted.

If you miss the post, you can drop off your postal vote at the return address shown on envelope B by 10pm on polling day. Or you can take it to any polling station in your electoral area between 7am and 10pm on polling day.

Help and further information 

If you need any help or further information you can contact us on 01394 444685 or email elections.scdc@eastsuffolk.gov.uk and we will be pleased to help you. Our postal address is:

Suffolk Coastal District Council
Electoral Registration Office
Council Offices, Melton Hill
Woodbridge
Suffolk
IP12 1AU

The aboutmyvote website has comprehensive information about registering and using your vote including details of forthcoming elections and deadlines for electoral registration.