Voters in some parts of England and Northern Ireland will choose new councillors across 241 councils in May.
But what can and can’t you do while voting in person?
How do I find my polling station?
If you are registered to vote, you will be sent a poll card with your polling number and polling station details. Or find your polling station online.
To vote in person, you need to turn up at the polling station between 07:00 and 22:00 BST on 4 May in England, or 18 May in Northern Ireland.
If there’s a queue, you can still vote as long as you joined it before 22:00.
Will I need ID to vote?
You don’t need to take your poll card but from 4 May 2023, voters in England must show photo ID to vote in person.
There are 22 forms of valid ID including:
- driving licences
- Older or Disabled Person’s bus passes
- Oyster 60+ cards
Anyone without correct ID was encouraged to sign up for a new free Voter Authority Certificate.
The application deadline was 25 April. Some 85,000 people signed up – about 4% of the estimated two million people without an accepted form of ID.
Voter ID has been required in Northern Ireland since 2003. The deadline to apply for a NI Electoral Identity Card for the 18 May elections is 5 May.
Can I use my own pen or pencil?
Writing implements are provided but you can bring your own if you wish.
What if I cannot turn up on the day?
The deadline for registering for proxy or postal votes in England has passed.
In Northern Ireland, the deadline for registering to vote by post or proxy has also passed. To vote in person you must register by 23:59 BST on 28 April.
However, you can apply for an emergency proxy vote after these deadlines if work or a medical emergency mean you can no longer vote in person.
You can do this up to 17:00 BST on polling day.
Can I take a selfie?
You are not allowed to take photos inside a polling station because the Electoral Commission – which oversees UK elections – says it risks the secrecy of the ballot.
The punishment for revealing how someone else voted – even accidentally – is a fine of up to £5,000, or six months in prison.
But people are welcome to take photos outside.
Yes, but voters are advised not to update their social media accounts inside the polling station.
The rules for postal ballot papers are different, so voters can share photos of their own postal ballot paper on social media if they wish.
Can I spoil my ballot paper?
Some people deliberately spoil their vote – for example, by writing a message on the ballot paper as a protest.
These are recorded but do not count for or against any candidate.
If you sign your ballot and your name is identifiable, the vote does not count.
Can I bring my pet?
Animals, apart from assistance dogs, are not usually allowed in polling stations. However, other dogs can be admitted at the discretion of the local authority.
Can I wear political clothing?
The Electoral Commission says there is nothing in law to prevent someone wearing a political slogan going into a polling station in order to vote.
However, they should leave immediately afterwards, as campaigning inside polling stations is not allowed.
Can I discuss the candidates?
Political discussion is banned inside polling stations.
Staff will intervene if they hear any references to candidates or parties.
Can my children come?
Bringing children to the polling station is encouraged to help educate them about democracy.
But children are not allowed to mark your vote on the ballot paper.
Can I vote if I’ve been drinking?
People who are drunk can vote, unless they are disruptive.
Can I have help if I am disabled?
Polling station staff can help or you can bring someone with you.
In England, from 4 May 2023, anyone over the age of 18 can help you cast your vote. They don’t need to be eligible to vote in that election.
In Northern Ireland, a companion or the presiding officer can mark the ballot for you.
Polling stations should have large-print sample ballot papers, and tactile voting devices to help people with visual impairments.
You can take your phone into the polling booth to use magnifier or text-to-speech apps, or the phone torch to improve lighting. But you must not take any photos inside the polling station.
Is voting compulsory?
No – it is entirely up to you whether or not you vote.
Who counts the votes?
Local councils recruit a returning officer and staff to conduct the ballot, count the votes and process the postal votes.
Results from more than 60 councils in England are expected to be announced overnight, with the rest throughout the day on 5 May.
In Northern Ireland results will start coming in on 19 May.