5pm deadline to register to vote in UK elections

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Indy Politics

The deadline for Britons to register to vote is today, with people given until 5pm to add their name to the list of electors.

Voters must ensure they have registered in order to cast their ballots in the General Election and local polls on May 6.

As the deadline approaches, people who want to register should contact their local authority, print a form using the About My Vote website or call the Electoral Commission's helpline.

Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on election day.

Special cards will be sent to each voter with the details of their specific local polling station, although they are not needed in order to cast a ballot, unless the voter is registered anonymously.

People can also choose to vote by post or proxy if they cannot or do not want to attend a polling station in person.

To do so, they should apply to their local authority by 5pm today.

When applying for a postal vote, voters must supply their name, date of birth and signature for security reasons.

Postal votes must be received by 10pm on polling day. They can be mailed back or returned by hand to council offices, or given in at the polling station.

With a proxy vote, people must appoint someone to vote on their behalf at the polling station or by postal vote.

Proxy voters must tell the person voting on their behalf which political party or individual candidate they wish to vote for.

Voters can register at more than one address, provided they are resident at those addresses.

This is common among students and people living in rented accommodation.

It is an offence to vote twice in the General Election, but those registered at more than one address can vote in more than one local election, as long as they are in different council areas.

European Union citizens resident in the UK cannot vote in the General Election but can in local elections.

There were 44,260,051 people registered to vote in Great Britain as of December 1 2009, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Between 91% and 92% of those eligible to vote were registered to do so in England and Wales in 2005, according to an Electoral Commission report.

But turnout at the last general election in 2005 was only 61.4% of registered voters, historically quite low.

:: For more information, visit the website http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk or call the Electoral Commission helpline on 0800 3 280 280

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