Everything you need to know

A number of elections are scheduled to take place across the UK on May 6 2021, including those postponed in May 2020. This will be your opportunity to have your say and cast your vote for the candidates which best represent your views and perspectives.

You’ve probably heard lots of information about General Elections, when the Country elects its Members of Parliament, but you may not be as aware of local elections.

We’ve put together some FAQs to give you all the information you need, including explaining what positions you are voting for, when you need to register by and how to vote.

You can also find out more about local elections on the Government website. This handy article from Worcester City Council also gives a useful overview.


What am I voting for in the local elections?

The elections on May 6 will vary according to each region of the UK, but essentially you will be voting to elect:

What does a local authority do?

Local councils provide services and facilities in your area. The type of council you have and their responsibilities depends on where you live.

Local councillors oversee the work of the council and set the strategies and priorities. When you vote in local elections, you vote for councillors to represent your ward.

Local government elections take place at least every 4 years. Not all local government elections take place at the same time.

What is a Police and Crime Commissioner?

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) make sure that the local police in their area are meeting the needs of the community.

There are 41 areas across England and Wales with a PCC. Each area has one commissioner.

What is a Directly Elected Mayor?

Directly Elected Mayors  are local government executive leaders who have been directly elected by the people who live in a local authority area.

Who can take part in the elections?

You can vote in the Local Elections if you are:

  • Registered to vote
  • Aged 18 or over (16 or over in Scotland and Wales – for certain Elections)
  • Registered at an address in the area you’re voting in
  • A British, Irish or EU Citizen living in the UK
  • a Commonwealth citizen who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission
  • a citizen of another country living in Scotland or Wales who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission

Read more on the Gov.uk website.

How do I register to vote?

In order to vote in the elections on May 6 you must be registered on the Electoral Roll.

Don’t worry, it’s a really quick process and you only need to register once - not for every election. But you will need to register again if you’ve changed your name, address or nationality, since last registering.

You will need your National Insurance number when registering so make sure you know what that is. You will find it on your most recent payslip if you are employed, or any tax/pension letters you have received.

When’s the deadline for registering

You must register by 11:59pm on April 19 to vote on May 6.

I’m not sure if I will be at home or university on May 6. Where should I register?

As a student, you can actually register to vote at both your term time address and your non-term-time address, as long as they are in different local government areas.

Why should I vote?

The decisions taken at local levels affect us all, so it’s important to have your say, as this will influence decision-making on policing and local legislation.

It is an opportunity to make your voice heard and have a say on who represents you on issues that directly affect day-to-day life.

Local Councillors and Mayors have control over things like transport, healthcare, education, recycling and much more. Police and Crime Commissioners will be responsible for setting budgets, creating plans to manage crime and providing general oversight of your local police force.

It’s always a good idea to research the candidates for your area to ensure you know who will best represent you and the key issues you’re passionate about. 

Who are the candidates in my local area?

Th deadline for nominations to stand in the local authority elections is April 8, after which time a list of the candidates will be published by each authority.

From April 15, you will be able to find out information on the Police and Crime Commissioner candidates standing for election in your police area on the Choose My PCC website.

You may also have already started to receive leaflets through your letter box for candidates. Do take time to read and research so that you can decide who best represents your views.

Where do I go to vote?

If you are on the electoral register you will be sent a polling card ahead of the elections, which will list your allocated polling station.

Polling stations will be open 7am-10pm on May 6, with a range of measures in place to ensure they are Covid-secure.

Do I have to vote in person?

Anyone can apply for a postal vote, and the pandemic may mean more of you would prefer to vote in this way.

If this is the case you must first register to vote online by April 19, and then complete and return your postal vote paperwork to your Electoral Office before:

  • April 20 at 5pm, if you’re in England or Wales
  • April 6 at 5pm, if you’re in Scotland

Learn more about applying for a postal vote.

Can someone else vote on my behalf?

If you’re unable to vote in person on May 6, you can ask someone to vote for you – this is called a Proxy vote.

You can only apply for a proxy vote under certain circumstances, including:

  • being away on polling day
  • having a medical issue or disability
  • not being able to vote in person because of work or military service

Your proxy should be someone you trust to vote on your behalf. You’ll need to tell them which candidate you want to vote for.

You can apply for a proxy vote using a paper form. You need to send it to your local Electoral Registration Office.

Usually, you need to apply for a proxy vote at least 6 working days before election day if you want to vote in England, Scotland or Wales.

If you want to vote by proxy on May 6, your application form must arrive at your local Electoral Registration Office by April 27 at 5pm.

You can also apply for an emergency proxy vote if something unexpected happens after the deadline.

When do I vote?

Polling day is May 6 and polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm. 

More information

Head to Gov.uk and the Electoral Commission’s website for more information.