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Voting when you are 16 and 17

In Wales, you can vote in Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament and local government elections, sometimes referred to as local Council elections, when you are 16. You can vote in all other elections once you are 18. You cannot vote unless you are registered to vote.

Voting as a student

If you are moving away to study, you can usually register to vote at both your home address and term-time address.

Remember, you can only vote once in a national election (such as the Welsh or UK Parliament election).

For example, if you vote in the UK Parliament election at your term-time address, you cannot also vote in the UK Parliament election at your home address, as you have already voted once in a national election.

Local government (also known as local Council) elections are different. If your home address is in a different Council area to your term-time address, you may vote in both local Council elections.

This is permitted because they are not national elections but are separate elections, so you can vote once in both areas, provided they are not the same Council area, and you are registered to vote in both areas.

If you are still unsure, contact us or the council where your term-time address is located for advice.

Local council elections in Wales

Local councils look after things that are specific to your local area. This can include recycling, sports and leisure facilities, public transport, social housing, and services for young people. There are 22 local councils in Wales, you are represented by up to 4 local councillors, who are elected every 4 years. Councillors spend much of their time developing future plans for your area, deciding how much to spend on local services and helping local people with things that are important to them. Find out more about what you can vote for, and how to register, at electoralcommission.org.uk/learning.

Welsh Parliament elections

The Senedd is located in Cardiff Bay and is made up of 60 Members of the Senedd, or MS for short. They pass laws and raise taxes and make decisions about a range of issues that affect Wales, including education and training, transport, heritage and healthcare. Each person in Wales is represented by 5 Members of the Senedd who are elected every 5 years. They split their time between Cardiff and work in their local area. Members work could include helping the people they represent, debating matters in the Senedd, sitting on Senedd committees or asking minister's official questions. Find out more about what you can vote for, and how to register, at electoralcommission.org.uk/learning.

UK Parliament elections

When you're 18, you can vote in UK parliament elections. As long as you are a citizen of the UK, or of Ireland or a Commonwealth country, and also have leave to remain in the UK. The UK Parliament is based in London and is made up of the House of Commons, and the House of Lords. The public votes for 650 Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, but the House of Lords is not elected. The UK Parliament looks after some things which affect Wales, such as foreign affairs, defence and immigration. These are called 'reserved matters'. Every person in the UK is represented by one Member of Parliament, or MP for short. 40 MPs represent Wales. They are usually elected every 5 years. Each MP represents one constituency. They split their time between London and the area they represent. They spend their time listening to local people, making and changing laws, debating in Parliament, and looking closely at the Government's plans. You can get in touch with all the people who represent you to raise issues and ask questions. You can find their contact details online. Find out more about what you can vote for, and how to register, at electoralcommission.org.uk/learning.

What are the different ways of voting?

Before an election, you'll get a poll card saying where your polling station is. Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm. As long as you're in the queue by 10pm, you'll be allowed to vote. When you get ot the polling station, tell the staff your name and address and they'll give you your ballot paper. Take your ballot paper into a polling booth. Remember to be respectful of other people so everyone can vote in secret. There'll be a pencil in the polling booth, but you're welcome to use your own pen, if you like. Mark who you want to vote for on the ballot paper as it instructs. You may have two or more ballot papers for different elections. Don't worry if you make a mistake, just ask a member of staff and they'll give you a new ballot paper. When you've completed your choices, put your ballot paper in the ballot box. If you're unsure about anything or need assistance, just ask a member of staff and they will be happy to explain the process before you vote. At the end of the day, the ballot box is taken away for all the votes to be counted. Your vote will be kept safe and secret, and no one will find out who you voted for. And that's it.

If you're going to be away from home on polling day or you are unable to get to the polling station for any reason, you can register to vote by post. To vote by post, you need to apply to your local council. You can download a form or you can ask for one to be sent to you. You'll need to give your signature and date of birth on your application form and again when you vote. This is to confirm who you are. A postal vote pack will be sent ot you before the election. Follow the instructions and put everything back in the freepost, pre-addressed envelope and post it to your council to be counted. If you forget to post you vote, it can be dropped off at a polling station on the day of the election. Remember, your postal vote needs to get back to your council by 10pm on polling day if you want your vote to be counted in the election.

If you can't get to the polling station on polling day you can ask someone you trust to vote on your behalf. This is called voting by 'proxy'. And your trusted person is often called your 'proxy'. To vote by proxy, you need to apply to your council. You can download an application form or you can ask for this to be sent to you. You'll need to tell your trusted person who you'd like to vote for. On polling day, they need to go to your polling station to vote. This may be different to where they go to vote. They need to tell the polling station staff your name and also their own name and then they follow the normal process to vote at a polling station. If your trusted person can't get to the polling station, they can apply to vote by post. This is called a 'postal proxy'. Learn more about how to cast your vote at electoralcommission.org.uk/learning.

 

Source: Electoral Commission

Contacts

  • Email: electoral.services@powys.gov.uk
  • Phone: 01597 826202
  • Address: Electoral Services, Powys County Hall, Spa Road East, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 5LG

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