Local elections 2023: last day to register to vote for council elections in England - how to apply
The Conservatives have said Boris Johnson is ‘always welcome’ on the campaign trail
Today (17 April) is the last day you can register to vote in time for the local elections next month.
More than 8,000 council seats in England are up for grabs on May 4 across 230 local authorities, ranging from small rural areas to some of the largest towns and cities.
For the first time in England, Voters will be required to present photo identification in order to vote, prompting concerns about reduced turnout and increased workloads for staff at polling stations.
The Conservative Party has warned that it could face significant losses, with the party chair describing this year’s vote as “a difficult set of elections,” for the party.
How to register to vote
People who have not yet registered to vote, or are not sure if they are eligible, have until 11.59pm on Monday April 17 to submit an application. This can be done online at gov.uk/registertovote.
An average of 19,361 applications per day to register to vote were made in the week to April 15, up from 16,668 in the previous week, Government figures show.
There were 16,751 applications on Saturday, although numbers are typically lower at a weekend. Some 26,567 applications were made on Friday, the highest for a single day so far this year.
Ailsa Irvine, director of administration at the Electoral Commission, told the PA news agency: “Anyone that wants to take part in the May elections needs to be registered to vote by midnight tonight.
“If you haven’t registered before or have recently moved home or changed your details, you will need to apply to register today. It only takes five minutes and can be done online. If you want to make sure your voice is heard and you’re not already registered, go to www.gov.uk/registertovote and register now.
“Anyone that wants to apply for a postal vote must have their application in to their local council by 5pm tomorrow.”
Voters intending to cast a ballot in May’s elections will not only need to be registered but also show a form of photo identification at the polling station. Not all types of photo ID will be accepted, but a passport, driving licence or blue badge are valid.
Anyone without the correct identification will need to apply for a voter authority certificate by April 25, which can be done online at gov.uk/apply-for-photo-id-voter-authority-certificate.
The Government’s introduction of compulsory photo ID has been branded “expensive” and “unnecessary” by Labour and sparked concern among electoral reform campaigners, who say it could make it harder for some voters to cast their ballot.
The Local Government Association has voiced fears that electoral officers will be “overwhelmed” on polling day as they grapple with “the biggest change to in-person voting in 150 years”.
The Electoral Commission said extra staff will be deployed at some polling stations to make sure voters are aware of the new rules and to help manage any long queues.
There have been 64,069 online applications for a voter authority certificate (VAC) since the scheme opened on January 16 this year.
The average number of VAC applications per day stood at 1,489 in the week to April 15, up from 961 the previous week. Some 2,627 applications were submitted on April 14, the highest number on a single day so far.
Just 6% of all VAC applications have come from people aged under 25, and 3% from those aged 75 and over, according to analysis of Government data by the PA news agency.
Applications from 55 to 64-year-olds account for nearly a third (32%) of the total, followed by 45 to 54-year-olds (23%), 35 to 44-year-olds (16%), 65 to 74-year-olds (10%) and 25 to 34-year-olds (10%).
Not all parts of England are holding local elections this year. There are no contests in London and Birmingham, along with other areas including Cornwall, North Yorkshire and Cumbria. Local elections in Northern Ireland have been put back two weeks to May 18, to avoid a clash with the King’s coronation on May 6.
You can use this searchable table to check whether there are elections in your area, how many council seats are up and which party currently has control.
Counting in Northern Ireland usually takes a couple of days to complete, due to the system of voting used for council elections, which sees voters rank candidates in order of preference.
No elections are taking place in Scotland and Wales this year.
Conservatives could lose up to 1,000 seats
As polls suggest Labour are likely to pick up a significant number of seats and possibly take control of a number of councils which are currently led by the Conservatives or have no overall control, Tory party chairman Greg Hands has highlighted the difficulties his party faces on 4 May.
Appearing on GB News, Hands said: “It’s going to be a difficult set of elections obviously - it’s the biggest set of elections in the four-year cycle of local elections. These seats were last fought in 2019 when it was a different political situation and when Jeremy Corbyn was the leader of the Labour Party.
“Labour did particularly badly that year. So, Labour needs to show a lot of progress if they’re going to seriously say at the General Election next year, that they’ve made progress and are ready to govern, which I don’t believe that they are.”
Hands acknowledged reports that the Conservatives could lose up to 1,000 seats next month: “Well, that’s what the independent academic experts are saying. But I know that our councillors and our council candidates are fighting amazingly hard.”
Hands also said Boris Johnson is “always welcome to be out campaigning,” but said voters were also showing a “real enthusiasm for what Rishi Sunak is doing right”.