Is it illegal not to vote? Your rights explained

Today’s vote is your chance to express who you want to be running your local services and to indicate your attitude towards the UK’s political direction. All major parties will be on the ballots today – but is it illegal to not take part in today’s election?

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Is it illegal not to vote?

It is not illegal to not vote in the UK – enforced voting is never used throughout Britain and Northern Ireland.

Even if you have registered to vote and don’t head to the polling station today, there is nothing illegal about it.

The case is the same in all types of votes across the UK, whether that be in a general election, local election or a referendum.

Why is voting important?

Voting hands the power to the people to decide how things are run in the UK.

In the local elections today, people will be casting ballots for who they want to run local services.

By voting, you get to decide who is in control of key local issues that affect everyday life in your community.

Is a local election different from a general election?

Yes. Voting in a local election is for issues in your area, while a general election decides on nationwide issues like the NHS, education, housing and the environment.

A general election will also decide who your local MP and the Prime Minister will be.

In a local election, you get to choose which councillors from which political party will run your local services.

Who should I vote for?

This is entirely up to you, and you should vote for a candidate or party that represents your views.

You can see who is standing in your area and for which party via the Electoral Commission website.

If no candidate appeals to you, it’s fine if you don’t want to vote. It’s also legal to spoil your ballot – you can do this by crossing out the entire ballot, writing on it, or simply leaving your ballot blank.

How do I vote?

To vote today, you will need to head down to your local polling station, which you can find on the Electoral Commission website.

Not all areas of the UK are voting today, so this may not apply to you.

You need to have previously registered to vote in order to fill out a ballot today.

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