The next County Council elections are due in May 2021
Everyone in the UK has a local council, an MP who sits in the UK Parliament, and members of the European Parliament who represent you in Europe.
As a registered voter, you have the right to cast your vote to determine who will represent you.
The section below will provide you with the information you need to know if you want to vote or stand as a candidate in an election.
Voting in person
Providing your name is on the electoral register, you will receive a poll card which tells you where you should go when there is an election taking place in which you are eligible to cast a vote.
If you have already chosen to vote by post then you will receive a poll card which tells you when and where your voting papers will be sent.
Voting by post
Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station.
Just so you know, postal ballots can only be sent out when there is an election and the deadline to become a candidate has passed. This is the point when ballot papers will be produced and printed.
The Electoral Commission has produced some excellent guidance on how to vote by post including providing the form you need to apply.
Voting by proxy
Proxy voting means that if you aren’t able to cast your vote in person, you can have someone you trust cast your vote for you.
The Electoral Commission has provided the full guide to everything you need to know about the process.
You could be eligible to vote by proxy if you have a disability and unable to attend a polling station, are overseas or in the armed forces among other reasons.
Elections you can vote in
A person can only vote in an election taking place in the area in which they have been registered.
To vote for your MP you must be
- Registered to vote in the area;
- 18 or above on polling day; and
- A British citizen, qualifying Commonwealth citizen, or citizen of the Republic of Ireland.
British citizens resident overseas are also eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary elections provided they were last registered to vote in the UK within the past 15 years.
For other elections you must be
- Registered to vote in the area
- 18 or above on polling day (16 in Scotland) and
- A British citizen, qualifying Commonwealth citizen, citizen of the Republic of Ireland or citizen of another EU Member State resident in the UK.
If I am at university, can I vote there and at home?
When a person is registered in more than one place, they can vote in local government elections in two (or more) different places. In this case, they are not casting more than one vote in an election to the same body, but voting to elect councillors to different councils.
Cancelling a postal or proxy vote
If you would like to cancel a current postal or proxy vote please contact your district council.
You will need to tell them
- Your name
- Your address
- A statement that you wish to cancel you postal voting (or proxy voting) arrangements with immediate effect
Please note that should you wish to cancel a postal vote when an election has been called, this must be done before the postal vote application deadline.
Standing as a candidate
If you want to stand as a candidate in an election taking place in Somerset, you will find all the information you need on the site provided by the Electoral Commission.
The guidance for elections covers
- standing for election
- accepting donations
- spending money
- your rights as a candidate, including access to election proceedings
- reporting after the election
If you are aged 18 and a British citizen, you can stand for local election subject to further criteria which is listed here.
County Council elections
County Council elections are held every 4 years using the first past the post system.
Find the results from 4 May 2017 on our elections results page.
Elections to councils are usually held on the first Thursday in May in any given year. However, parliament can decide to move the day of local government elections in England.
The organisation of elections is undertaken on the County Council’s behalf by the four district councils in Somerset. If you need more information about the process and timetable for the elections, you should contact the relevant district council for the area you live in.
A detailed timetable (known as the Notice of Election) gives the process for submitting nominations and guidance for candidates will be published around two months before the election by the relevant district council. The Notice of Election gives the relevant dates and deadlines and explains what needs to be done and who to contact. The initial point of contact at district councils is the Democratic Services or Electoral Services Team, acting as the Deputy Returning Officer.
Register to vote
You must be registered to vote. All eligible citizens can register.
You must be a resident of an area in order to vote there.
16 and 17 year olds can apply to register, so that they are able to vote as soon as they turn 18.
If you move house or change your nationality you’ll need to re-register. If you have changed your name, it’s easier to apply to re-register online, or you can ask your local electoral office for a change of name form.
There are special arrangements in place to help certain groups of people to vote:
Anonymous registration – You can register anonymously if you are concerned about your name and address appearing on the electoral register because you think that it could affect your safety, or the safety of someone in your household.
Service voters have special arrangements available to them. These include members of HM Forces and their spouses or civil partners, as well as Crown Servants and employees of the British Council posted overseas.
Declaration of local connection It is possible to declare a connection to a local area in order to vote, if you do not have a fixed address, you have been held on remand, or you are a long-term patient in
a mental hospital.
There are a number of exceptions to these rules. Find out more at yourvotematters.co.uk.
You can register at any time of the year.
You’ll just need your National Insurance number, date of birth and address.
Go to Your Vote Matters to find more information on registering to vote.
Or contact the Elections Officer at your district council
Mendip – 0300 303 8588
Sedgemoor – 0300 303 7800
South Somerset – 01935 462462
Somerset West and Taunton – 0300 304 8000
Checking your registration
Once registered to vote you do not need to do so again, unless you change your name, nationality or address. Electoral Registration Officers contact each household in their area each year to confirm that the registration details they hold for that property are accurate.
If you are registered to vote, you will also receive a poll card about six weeks before the elections.
There is no automatic registration process, so unless you have registered individually, you are not on the electoral register.