How do I vote in the EU referendum? Everything you need to know about choosing to Remain or Leave

'Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?'

Ashley Cowburn@ashcowburn
Tuesday 07 June 2016 08:09
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A polling station in south London Britain May 5, 2016.
A polling station in south London Britain May 5, 2016.

Britons will head to polling stations across the UK on 23 June to decide whether to remain a member of the European Union or break away from the 28-member state bloc.

Polls have yet to point to a decisive winner, and while those conducted online have tended to show a 50-50 split, phone polls have more often than not suggested the Remain camp is ahead.

One thing that unites the polls is that the referendum could depend on the apathy of younger voters: every survey finds the majority of younger people are much more sympathetic to the European project than their parents and grandparents.

A poll last month by Opinium found that in the 18-34 age group, 53 per cent said they backed Remain, while 29 per cent wanted to leave the EU. Crucially, however, only 52 per cent said they were certain to actually go out and vote.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to register, what to expect and how to vote in the EU referendum:

So, when is it?

Thursday 23 June 2016. Polling stations across the UK will be open from 7am to 10pm.

Am I eligible to vote?

You can vote in the referendum if you’re registered and are 18 or over on the day of the vote (so you can vote if your 18th birthday is on the same day – happy birthday!). Other requirements include:

  • A British citizen living in the UK, or 
  • A Commonwealth citizen living in the UK who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK
  • A British citizen living overseas who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years
  • An Irish citizen living overseas who was born in Northern Ireland and who has been registered to vote in Northern Ireland in the last 15 years

If you’re under 18 then you might be aware that the Conservatives blocked an amendment to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in the referendum.

Okay, I've done all that. 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”.

How do I register?

If you registered to vote in the May local and mayoral elections a few weeks ago then you will not need to re-register.

You have to register before 7 June to have your say in the referendum. You can do that here: gov.uk/register-to-vote

There is a caveat: If you’ve moved home in the last few weeks then you will need to re-register at your new property.

EU referendum - key dates

Still not convinced you’re registered?

Every local authority holds the electoral register for their area. You can contact your local registration office and they will be able to let you know if you are registered.

To find the contact details of your local office, enter your postcode here on the Electoral Commission’s website.

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 closer to voting day.

I’ll be at Glastonbury. What do I do?

Fear not. You will not be disenfranchised while singing to Adele’s "Set Fire to the Rain" with a lighter in your hand at the Pyramid Stage. Instead of voting in person, on the day, you can register for either a postal vote or a proxy vote.

For a postal vote: you will need to download this form and send it to your local registration office (mentioned above). This will need to arrive at the office by 5pm on 8 June 2016. Your local council will then send you a ballot paper by post, which will need to arrive back at the office by 10pm on 23 June.

The second option – a proxy vote – means allowing somebody you trust to vote on your behalf. Check here for the correct form to fire off.

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