26 January 2024
What you need to know to be ready for upcoming elections
All-out borough elections are on Thursday 2 May, which means all 54 seats on the council are up for contention
This year’s local elections take place on Thursday 2 May and there is also a Police and Crime Commissioner election for Thames Valley, with the possibility of parish council elections if there are any contested seats.
Although the date for the next general election has not yet been confirmed, it must be held by 28 January 2025, although it could be called sooner.
Residents are urged to check they are registered to vote now ahead of the deadline on Tuesday 16 April and to read their poll card carefully when it arrives, as it will tell them everything they need to know including where their polling station is, which may have changed.
Poll cards will also contain information about the requirement for photo ID, if you are voting at a polling station. This change was introduced last year as a result of the Elections Act 2022 and you will not be able to vote without suitable ID.
Lots of forms of ID are accepted, such as a driving licence, passport and blue badge, but if you don’t have accepted ID, you can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate. Bringing a poll card will not entitle you to vote.
Helping you to get ready for May
Andrew Moulton, Returning Officer at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “We realise that the elections are not happening until May, but it is very important residents understand the many changes that have happened recently and have all the knowledge they need to be ready to vote.
“There are local elections this year and very possibly a general election, along with the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, which is why all residents must check they are registered to vote and act ahead of time. Please remember to read your poll card carefully when it arrives, as it will tell you where you can vote and remind you to bring your ID with you.”
Changes to ward boundaries
Some residents will be voting in a different ward to the one they last cast their vote in following a major change to ward boundaries. This came as a result of an independent review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.
The council recently undertook a review of the polling places used across the borough, undertaking a four-week consultation. The review was conducted to ensure councillors represent roughly the same number of electors. The number of councillors will remain at 54, but there will now be 18 wards, each represented by three councillors.
Changes to the polling places used at future elections were approved at Council earlier this month. Detailed maps showing existing ward and polling districts, as well as current polling places, are available online.
Changes to postal and proxy voting
If you want to vote by post or appoint a proxy (someone to vote on your behalf), there are important changes to be aware of that came into effect in October last year. Electors now have the option to apply for a postal or proxy vote online through a new central government portal, but current postal voters do not need to re-apply and will be contacted by January 2026.
For security reasons, all postal and proxy vote applications must include a signature, date of birth and national insurance number, this is the case for both paper and online applications. All electors with a permanent proxy vote for all elections in England will need to re-apply for their proxy vote by Wednesday 31 January and have been contacted by the Electoral Services Team.
The council is keen that anyone wishing to vote by post applies sooner rather than later to ensure there are no delays.
For all elections, there will now be restrictions on the handling of postal votes. Voters will not be allowed to hand in more than five postal ballot packs (in addition to their own).
If you are a postal voter, please be advised that you will need to complete an additional form if you return your voting pack to our offices at Shute End in Wokingham or at a polling station. If you do not fill out this form, your vote will not be counted.
Political parties and campaigners will now be banned from handling postal vote packs.
Electors will only be able to act as a proxy for up to two people living in the UK (or a maximum of four people, with two people living in the UK and two people registered as living overseas).
In addition to the new ward boundary arrangements, there are also new parliamentary boundaries to elect Members of Parliament. There are now two constituencies in the borough: the existing Wokingham constituency and the new Earley & Woodley constituency.
This change came as a result of a different review, which was carried out by the Boundary Commission for England.
Other changes that are happening
- Changes for overseas electors: From January 2024, the 15-year limit on British citizens living abroad will end. Any British citizen previously registered to vote in the UK, or who previously lived in the UK, will be able to register to vote, regardless of how long they have lived abroad
- Changes for EU Citizens: After May 2024, EU citizens will no longer automatically be entitled to register, vote or stand for election. This applies to all local elections and referendums in England, as well as Police and Crime Commissioner elections
More information about the changes to upcoming elections and voting process is available on our website.
- Deadline to register to vote – Midnight, Tuesday 16 April
- Deadline to apply for a postal vote or postal proxy – 5pm, Wednesday 17 April
- Deadline to apply for a proxy vote – 5pm, Wednesday 24 April
- Local elections – 7am to 10pm, Thursday 2 May
- Police & Crime Commissioner elections – 7am to 10pm, Thursday 2 May
- General election – TBC (Must be held by 28 January 2025)