No. There is no legal requirement for anybody to vote, so it's up to you, although we hope that most electors will choose to vote at every opportunity.
Some elections are won or lost by very narrow margins. The votes of just a few people (or sometimes even one) can decide who becomes elected.
The decisions made by our elected representatives affect everybody, whether they are local Councillors, Members of Parliament, or Members of the European Parliament. It is important that the people who are elected represent the area properly. If you don't like what they do you can vote next time for somebody that you think might do better. You might even like to contact us to ask how you can become a local councillor.
Yes, it only takes a few minutes to cast your vote in person. Before an election a poll card will be delivered to you, telling you when and where you can vote. Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm.
Once in the polling station if you have any difficulty understanding what you should do, just ask one of the polling station staff for guidance.
You do not need to take your poll card - just go to your polling station during polling hours.
Anybody can vote by post if they wish. The ballot paper you receive will be exactly the same as the one that you would have received in the polling station.
To apply to vote by post please contact Thurrock Council Electoral Services on Tel. 01375 652816 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, you can appoint someone to vote on your behalf, this person is called a proxy. Your proxy will be sent a letter telling them to go to your polling station on election day to vote on your behalf.
If you appoint a proxy but find on polling day that you are able to vote in person, you can do so but only if your proxy hasn't already voted for you.
To apply to vote by proxy please contact Thurrock Council Electoral Services on Tel. 01375 652816 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
If you have a physical incapacity (including blindness) or can't read you can either bring a companion with you, or ask the Presiding Officer in the station to help. Alternatively for blind or partially sighted voters there will be a large print ballot paper at the polling station together with a device to allow you to mark your ballot paper without assistance.
Yes. Secrecy of voting is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.
The voting compartments are designed to make sure that nobody but you know which candidate you voted for. Once you have marked your ballot paper you should fold it and put it in the ballot box without anyone seeing how you voted.
The ballot box is locked and sealed by the Presiding Officer at the start of polling day and is further sealed at the end of polling, and will not be opened until the start of the count.
Your elector number is written on the corresponding number list to protect your vote. Imagine if someone went into your polling station and said that they were you, were given a ballot paper, voted on it and put it into the ballot box. How would you feel if you then asked for your ballot paper, and were told that you had already voted, when you hadn't? The number helps us ensure that any fraudulent voting can be discovered and discounted.
At election times a list of candidates will be available on the electoral services website. Political parties or candidates may send you information at home in the run-up to election day.
Parliamentary elections can be held at any time so long as there are not more than five years between elections. The last general election was held in May 2010.
European Parliamentary elections are held every five years. The next EU elections will be in 2014.
Local elections are held in three out of four years and the next local elections will be held on 3 May 2012.
The Police and Crime Commissioner elections will be held on 15 November 2012
If you need help or advice you can phone or write to the Electoral Section at Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. Tel. 01375 652816. Alternatively you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.