European elections: When, where and how to vote and other questions answered

Ahead of Thursday’s European elections, here are some of the British public’s most Googled questions answered – including how, when and where to vote, what the ballot paper looks like and how to decide who to vote for.

– Who is running for European elections?

There will be 73 MEPs elected in the UK across 12 electoral regions: Eastern, East Midlands, London, Northern Ireland, North East, North West, Scotland, South East, South West, Wales, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber.

There are hundreds of candidates running. The easiest way to see who is up on the ballot paper in your area is by entering your postcode on the Electoral Commission website, or searching online for “MEP candidates (your region) 2019”.

Candidates will also be running across the other 27 EU member states. Overall, a total of 751 MEPs will be elected across the bloc to represent their regions in the European Parliament.

– When is the election?

UK voters or their appointed proxy voters will go to the polls on Thursday, while other EU member states will vote between Thursday and Sunday.

A polling station in Peterborough
A polling station in Peterborough

Polling stations will open from 7am to 10pm. If you have registered to vote by post, it must have been received by the council by 10pm on Thursday.

You can hand this to the council on the day if you were unable to send it by post.

– What will the ballot paper look like?

The paper will contain a list of parties, with a list of their candidates within them.

Parties will often list as many candidates as there are MEPs for the region – for example, London elects eight MEPs, therefore most of the major parties have each put forward eight candidates.

A mock ballot paper (
A mock ballot paper (

With the exception of Northern Ireland, UK voters choose one party or one independent, rather than choosing individual candidates.

– How do I vote?

Assuming you are voting in person, you will need to find out your polling station. If you are registered to vote this will have been sent to you by post, but if you don’t have this you can find out by contacting your local council.

Once you are there, you will be given a ballot paper listing the candidates you can vote for. This will have instructions on how to cast your vote.

Take the paper to a polling booth and mark it either with the pencil provided or your own pen if preferred. The Electoral Commission advises not to write anything else on the paper or the vote may not be counted.

Once completed, fold the ballot paper in half and place it in the ballot box. If you have made a mistake on your paper, tell the staff and they will provide you with a replacement.

A polling station inside a launderette in Oxford
A polling station inside a launderette in Oxford

Voters hoping to vote by post or by proxy must have applied already.

If you’re voting in Northern Ireland, you must take photo ID – the list of approved documents is available on the Electoral Commission website.

– Who do I vote for?

If you are unsure of who to vote for, there are numerous tools online to help you choose the parties or candidates best aligned to your views.