It’s polling day for the General Election 2019 and (hopefully) everyone able to vote in Bedford Borough will be heading to their local polling station to take part in the democratic process.
There are 102 polling stations across Bedford Borough and they’re everywhere from village halls to churches, schools to rugby clubs.
Find your polling station
Your polling card will tell you where your polling station is, but if you’re unsure you can simply search for yours by putting your postcode in the ‘Where do I vote‘ website.
If you know the name of your polling station but don’t know the address, you can find details at the Bedford Borough Council elections and voting pages.
But what can you do in the polling booth once you’re there, other than vote of course?
With figures suggesting that two million under 35s have registered to vote for the first time for this election there could be a few questions about what you can and can’t do in a voting booth.
The Electoral Commission, an independent body who oversees elections, has issued guidance on what you can and can’t do when voting.
Spoiling your ballot paper
Despite what some may tell you, you’re perfectly entitled to spoil your ballot paper. Some believe it’s a form of protest vote as while they don’t count toward any of the candidates, they are recorded.
Are you allowed to wear political clothing?
Simply put, yes. The law allows you to wear political clothing, or even a slogan at a polling station.
But you should be there to vote and must be leave immediately once you have done so. You are not allowed to campaign inside polling stations and hanging around, with a political message on your shirt, may be judged as such.
Can you take a selfie?
Again the law doesn’t say you can’t take a photo of yourself voting or in the booth, but you can’t take photos of anyone else and you can’t take a photo of the ballot slip you receive at a polling station.
You can be fined up to £5,000, or get six months in prison if your selfie manages to give away how someone else has voted. So the advice is to probably leave the selfies for outside.
Can you tweet, insta or snap your friends that you voted?
Of course, go ahead, encourage everyone to get out and vote but to avoid any confusion that you’re not telling the world how other people voted, leave it to outside when you’re done.
Are pets allowed in polling stations?
Can I use my own pen?
Yes. Pencils are provided in each polling booth, but you can use your own pen. If you’re worried that a pencil mark could be erased, the Electoral Commission says, “in the UK, pencils are traditionally used for the purposes of marking ballot papers and are made available inside polling stations for voters to use.
“While pencil marks can be rubbed out, similarly, pen marks can be crossed out.
“The key is that the integrity of the process from the point that a voter marks their ballot paper to the declaration of the result is maintained.”
Can you vote if drunk?
If you’re on your way home from the pub (before last orders, polls close at 10pm) then yes you can still vote, even if you’re under the influence of drugs, so long as you don’t disrupt others.