Millions of people across the UK will head to polling stations on today to vote in the European parliamentary elections.
For the first time since 2014, the election gives all EU citizens living in the UK the opportunity to vote for an MEP to represent their region.
With Britain originally due to leave the EU at the end of March, the country’s surprise participation in these elections has seen the major parties making a last-minute scramble for votes.
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The decision to delay Brexit to October has kept the UK in the EU long enough to see it eligible to take part in the vote, something the Conservatives and Labour may come to deeply regret.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the establishment parties are “expected to suffer” at the ballot box, “both at the hands of the populist Right as well as resurgent liberal parties”.
If you want to have your say on the state of European politics, here’s how to vote.
When do I vote?
The 2019 European parliament elections for the UK take place on Thursday 23 May. Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.
If you can’t make it to your local polling station on election day, it is possible to vote by post. But you must already have applied for a postal vote and ensured your ballot will arrive back by 10pm on Thursday to be included in the count.
Who can vote?
All UK citizens, including EU citizens resident in the UK, who are aged 18 or over on the day of the election are entitled to vote.
Those interested in voting should have registered by 7 May in order to take part.
Where do I vote?
Most polling stations are located in public buildings such as schools or local halls. Your polling station address is printed on your polling card, which should have been delivered to you by post if you registered in time. If it has not yet arrived, contact your local council.
How do I vote?
If you are voting in person, visit your polling station on the day and hand the staff your polling card. They will give you a ballot paper listing the parties and candidates you can choose.
If you’ve forgotten or misplaced your polling card, tell the staff inside the polling station your name and address so they can check you’re on the electoral register.
Once you’ve marked your ballot – without making any other marks on the paper – fold it and place it in the ballot box.
Voters who need assistance should contact their local authority in advance of the vote.
How does the electoral system work?
In England, Scotland and Wales, voters have one vote to elect all of the MEPs for their region.
Your Vote Matters explains that each party puts forward a list of candidates – known as a regional list – and voters either pick one of these lists or pick an individual candidate standing as an independent.
This is because the constituencies in a European election are multi-seat, ranging from three in the North-East England constituency to ten seats in South-East England, The Guardian says.
In Northern Ireland, voters use the Single Transferable Vote system to elect their three MEPs. This involves ranking the candidates in order of preference.
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