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by Sofia Villegas
03 June 2024
In Context: Voting in the general election

In Context: Voting in the general election

Time to get ready for July 4

What happens now?

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called a general election for 4 July, which means there is not much time left to get ready for election day. 

The UK Parliament was dissolved on 30 May, when all seats in the House of Commons became vacant. Before that, we entered a period known as “wash up”, in which parliament works to swiftly pass any outstanding legislation. Unfinished business is lost at dissolution. 

Who can vote?

You must be 18 or over and be a British, Irish, or qualified Commonwealth citizen to vote in the general election. To be eligible, you must also reside in the UK or be registered as an overseas voter. 

These rules slightly differ from those in place for Scottish Parliament elections. North of the border, over 16s can vote, as can non-British/Irish citizens who have a right to stay in the UK.

How do I register to vote?

You can do so online or via paper form. You have until 18 June at 11:59pm to register. 

Will I need a photo ID to vote?

Yes. This general election will be the first-ever to implement photo ID rules since parliament passed the Election Act in 2023. All voters must show photographic identification or risk being turned away from polling stations. 

This rule does not apply to the Scottish Parliament or local elections. If this continues to be the case, you will not need a photographic ID to vote in the next Holyrood election in May 2026.

What is a valid form of ID? 

There are 22 different forms of accepted ID, including passports (those granted by the EU, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, or a Commonwealth country are also accepted) and driving licenses. 

Various travel passes are also allowed as forms of ID, including a Scottish National Entitlement Card (NEC). 

You may use an out-of-date ID as long as you still resemble the picture.

What if I don’t have any of the accepted forms of ID?

Don’t worry, you can still vote. Those who don’t have any of the accepted forms of photo ID can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.

To do so, you’ll need your National Insurance number and a digital photo of yourself. 
The deadline to apply for a certificate is 5pm on 26 June.

What If I’m away on 4 July?

With Scotland heading to the Euros and most Scottish schools breaking up for the summer holidays a week before polling day, many citizens will be looking for alternative voting arrangements for 4 July.

Those who are not in the UK or are unable to attend the polling station can apply for a postal or proxy vote. 

You have until 19 June to apply for a postal vote. Once received, these must be sent in time for the polling station to get it no later than 10pm on polling day. You can also hand it in directly to your polling station. 

The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 26 June. Whoever you choose to vote on your behalf must be able to vote in the polling station stated on your poll card or cast the proxy vote by post. They do not require your photo ID to vote on your behalf, only their own. 
If an emergency occurs or you lose your photo ID, you have until 5pm on polling day to apply for an emergency proxy vote.

Has my constituency changed?

Most probably. Until 2023, constituency boundaries were subject to a review every five years. This evaluation analyses any population changes to ensure each MP represents roughly an equalnumber of voters. 

However, the review period has now changed, with the next one not scheduled until 2031.

So, how has this affected Scotland?

The Scottish Boundary Commission’s latest change to the electoral map has meant Scotland will lose two MPs, going down from 59 to 57. Glasgow Central and Moray no longer exist.
Only eight constituencies have remained the same, while the rest have had areas removed, added and/or have changed names.

In light of these changes, election experts Rallings and Thrasher collated detailed data from the 2019 general election to provide what is known as the “notional” result – how the results of 2019 would have looked if 2024’s boundaries were in place.

In Scotland, the disappearance of Moray (Douglas Ross’s former seat) would have been offset by a Tory win in Gordon & Buchan. For the SNP, the removal of Glasgow Central and the loss in Gordon would have been counterbalanced by winning North East Fife and Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross instead of the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems would have only had two MPs instead of four.

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