Leeds Local elections: A guide on what to do on polling day

What do you do on Polling Day?
What do you do on Polling Day?

It’s polling day on Thursday.

The voters of Leeds will today elect 33 councillors to the city council, and YOU can play your part.

Here is our how-to guide when it comes to polling day.

Do I need to bring my polling card?

No – just turn up to the polling station listed on the card you were posted by your local authority. You don’t need a driving licence or passport either – unless you’re wanting to show off your radiant photogenicity.

Just speak to one of the volunteers and they will cross your name off the list to show you have voted.

When can I vote?

Our democracy is quite flexible when it comes to this.

Polling stations open at 7am on polling day, and open until 10pm.

Following complications around voting cut-off times in the 2015 General Election, you need only ensure you get to the polling station by 10pm – so if there’s a queue, you should be okay.

Don’t some people vote by post?

Yes, they do. Postal ballots were sent out a few weeks ago and are designed to make it easier for elderly, disabled or infirm people to cast their vote.

However, don’t try this now, as it most likely won’t reach the counters in time.

I haven’t registered to vote – can I still cast my ballot?

Afraid not – the deadline for voter registration was two weeks ago, meaning you’ll have to wait until next time.

Barring a surprise general election being called, this will be in May 2020.

Aren’t there European Elections too?

Seems so. One of the reasons the UK had wanted to have Brexit done and dusted by now was so that it wouldn’t have to hold European elections.

But, as the country now looks like it’ll be a member of the EU for at least the next few months, the country is obligated to hold a vote to elect Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

This vote will take place on Thursday, May 23.

What if I want to vote for a party that doesn’t appear on my ballot paper?

This means that this particular party doesn’t have a candidate standing in your ward. Your choices are limited purely to the names on your paper.

If you still feel really aggrieved by this, maybe you should consider joining this party or group and standing in your ward next time around.

Am I allowed to post a selfie from the polling booth?

#BadIdea

If you do this – even with the noble intention of encouraging others to cast their vote – you can get into very deep trouble.

The most innocuous of snaps of you putting a cross in the box can land you in JAIL, as it goes against Section 66 of the Representation of the People act 1983.

While there’s nothing wrong per se with taking a picture – it is illegal to publicise a picture of a ballot paper on social media, due to secrecy regulations.

Doing so could lead to a fine or up to six months in prison.

I don’t like crosses, I prefer ticks

Sorry. You have to mark your candidate with a cross, otherwise there is the chance this will go down as a spoilt ballot, and not count towards anything.

The same goes for smiley faces or writing “I like this one”. Don’t spoil your ballot!

I want to write a message on my ballot paper

While you may have the intention of sticking it to the man with your razor-sharp political insight, the only person who will see your ballot paper is the person counting them.

This, again, will simply go down as a spoilt ballot, and is most likely to simply agitate the person who has agreed to spend the early hours of Friday morning counting pieces of paper.

When will I find out who has won?

The counting takes place through the night into the early hours.

The full story will be on the website when you wake up the following morning. But if the excitement has taken a hold of you and you can’t wait until then, follow me at @ReporterRichB on Twitter for live updates.

Who should I vote for?

This is where my advice ends, as you have to make this decision for yourself.

If you want to find out more about who is standing in your area, we have a full list of candidates and which wards they are standing in.

There are also interviews with Leeds’s political group leaders on our website if you want to find out a little bit more about what they stand for.

Other than that, happy voting!