How do elections and voting work?
When there’s an election everyone who is registered to vote and aged 18 and over will be able to vote in their local area.
Depending on the election, you could be asked to vote for your local councillor, your MP or in a referendum on a specific issue, such as whether your area should adopt a neighbourhood plan.
How local councillors are elected
Local councillors make decisions on important issues that will affect you now, and in the future, such as:
- where we should focus our efforts locally to help tackle climate change,
- where and how new housing gets built,
- how we work to help ensure there’s enough affordable housing,
- what leisure facilities are provided and
- how rubbish collections work.
To elect local councillors, we use the First Past the Post system – on your ballot paper, you’ll see a list of candidates and you’ll be asked to mark ‘X’ next to your chosen candidate or candidates.
The candidate with the most votes becomes the representative for your local area.
Some areas have two or more people representing them, but the system works the same – the candidates with the most votes are the winners.
Remember to always read and follow the instructions on your ballot paper carefully.
How the UK Parliament is elected
MPs are elected to the House of Commons using a system called First Past the Post. You vote for one candidate in your constituency by marking ‘X’ next to their name.
There are 650 constituencies across the UK. Most candidates will be standing for a party. Simply, the candidate with the most votes in your constituency is elected and becomes your Member of Parliament.
The political party which has most MPs elected across the whole of the UK, wins the election and becomes the Government. They have what’s called a majority, meaning they have the largest number of MPs.
It’s important to remember that you don’t vote for the Prime Minister. Instead, members of each political party elect their own leader. If their party wins the majority, their leader becomes Prime Minister and that person chooses who takes other senior Government positions, such as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary.