With Britain heading to the polls to vote in the European Union referendum, The Independent has put together a step-by-step guide on how to vote, where to vote and – crucially – what time we can expect the results to come in.
If you have any further questions please let us know in the comments below and we’ll try to answer them.
When do the polls open – and close?
On Thursday 23 June polling stations across the UK will be open from 7am to 10pm.
Am I registered to vote?
If you are worried that you are not registered you can check with your local authority, who hold the electoral register for your area. To find the contact details of your local office, enter your postcode here on the Electoral Commission’s website.
Deadlines have now passed so if you are not registered you will be unable to vote in the referendum.
I am registered. What will I be asked?
This question will appear on your ballot paper: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
You’ll be given the option to put a cross next to “Remain” or “Leave”.
What is a referendum?
Basically, a referendum is a vote in which a large majority of the population can take part – as long as they are registered and of voting age. Usually voters are given a “Yes” or “No” question. But in the EU referendum, however, the option available will be to “Remain” or “Leave”.
… what about ‘Brexit’?
Brexit is a merge of the words Britain and exit – a fast way of saying the UK leaving the EU. Though, Brits can’t claim originality for this word. During the Greek financial crisis ‘Grexit’ became common – referring to the country’s potential exit from Eurozone.
So, where do I vote?
You can vote in the referendum in person at your local polling station – which you’ll be able to find the location of on the Electoral Commission’s website. If you’re voting by postal vote you will need to send your ballot paper back to your local council by June 23 at 10pm – the same time the polls close. So, if you’re heading to Glastonbury next week make sure you send your vote before travelling.
What time is the result announced?
Well, there’s no specific time. The Electoral Commission, which is in charge of overseeing the referendum, estimates the final result will be announced at “breakfast time” on Friday 24 June.
It’s a safe bet that by around 4am there should be a clear indication of which way the vote is going. Basically, as soon as it becomes apparent either the “Remain” or “Leave” side has passed the crucial 50 per cent mark of the vote – as we’ll know national turnout by this point – it will be clear whether Britain has voted to either embrace Brussels or opt for Brexit.
The count itself will get underway when the polls close at 10pm on 23 June at 382 local centres across the UK.
These local results will be declared as the counts are completed before being collated at 12 regional centres, which will also declare to the totals for each side. The chief counting officer will then collate all the results and once they are approved – and declared – the referendum result will be officially announced.
If you want to see a breakdown of the specific times each of the 382 local centres are set to declare, the Electoral Commission has a handy guide.
Where will the national result be announced?
The chief counting officer will announce the result at Manchester Town Hall.
This was decided in December 2015 to “ensure value for money for the taxpayer” as the Electoral Commission chose to combine the event with one of the regional count collation centres rather than hosting a separate event.
Will there be a speech after the announcement in Manchester?
The Electoral Commission is in discussion with the campaign groups as to whether they want to make any speeches on the night. It is expected, however, that David Cameron will address the nation from Downing Street on June 24 – in the event of both a Leave and Remain vote.
Is there an official exit poll?
Britain’s hedge fund industry is commissioning private exit polls to get an early warning of the result – and trying to make a profit from it. Electoral Commission rules allow exit polls on the day of a referendum so long as they are not published until polls close at 10pm. But that does not stop the funds themselves trying to profit from early indications of the result – by using the information to place bets on whether sterling will rise or fall depending on the result.
That in turn may move the market – giving the public an early indication of which way voting is going.
Polling companies have said demand is high for their private services on referendum day
The EU referendum debate has so far been characterised by bias, distortion and exaggeration. So until 23 June we we’re running a series of question and answer features that explain the most important issues in a detailed, dispassionate way to help inform your decision.