The General Election taking place on 12 December is being billed as one of the most important votes in years. And with voter registration closing at midnight tonight, there's not long left to ensure that you have your say.
It's a common misconception that those who are homeless or of no fixed abode cannot vote, and it's never been more important or crucial to say that this is not the case: if you have no fixed or permanent address, you are still able to vote in this election.
Here's how you do it.
How do I know if I'm eligible to vote?
In order to register to vote in a general election, you must:
- Be aged 18 or over on polling day
- Be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen
- Be a resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years)
- Not be be legally excluded from voting (convicted prisoners cannot vote, for example)
How do I register?
The easiest way to register is online, providing you know your National Insurance Number and date of birth. If you can't provide one or either of those things, you will need to contact your local Electoral Registration Office (they will also post a paper form to you if you require it). Alternatively, you can download a Register to Vote form and return it by post.
How can I register with no fixed/permanent address?
You can still vote if you're homeless, remanded in custody, or a patient in a mental health hospital. In order to vote, all you need to do is give an address of a place where you have lived in the past, the place where you're staying temporarily, or where you would be living if it were not for your current situation. If you are homeless, you can give details of where you spend a substantial amount of your time - this could be a night shelter (for example, your Centrepoint accommodation), a day service you go to regularly, or even an address that's near to a park bench or the doorway to a shop.
How do I vote?
It's easy: you can head down to your local polling station in person, which will usually be in a public building, like a school or a local hall. If you live away from home or are abroad, you can vote by post. If you are unable to vote in person, you can also ask someone to vote on your behalf, which is known as a proxy vote.
Why should I register to vote?
It's easy to become disillusioned with voting, particularly if you feel you are on the margins of society, or aren't listened to as a young person. But registering to vote it so important - it's the chance to get your voice heard on the issues that are important to you. There are politicians that represent your local area, and they have to power to change things where you live. So it's important to get registered and have your say.
If you haven't yet registered to vote, you have until midnight tonight, 26 November, to do so. Register online here.