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UK general election 2024: What you need to know to know about this year’s vote

By Scott Maclennan

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Ballots ready to be counted.
Ballots ready to be counted.

Polls open in the UK general election tomorrow as the country is set to choose its next government after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a snap election just six weeks ago.

Work is well underway by Highland Council officials to prepare the region for the two constituency votes that it manages for the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross and Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire seats.

It is one of the biggest and most challenging parts of the UK to arrange voting and counting given the range of communities spread across the whole of the north of Scotland.

In preparation for tomorrow’s national election here is what you need to know so that you can vote with polling stations open on Thursday July 4 from 7am and until 10pm starting with checking if you registered to vote.

Polling stations across the Highlands for the 2024 UK general election.
Polling stations across the Highlands for the 2024 UK general election.

Voting in person

The first thing is to locate your polling station, it should be on the ballot that most people were sent in the post but if you have not received your ballot then you can find it your polling station by clicking here. or you can use an interactive map here. Another way is to enter your postcode on the electoral register site by clicking here.

Once you have done that you should find your ID – what is appropriate identification can be found here – as this may be the first vote you will cast where you need to prove your identity following a controversial Boris Johnson-era move.

However, accepted forms of ID include a UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Commonwealth passport; a UK, EEA or Commonwealth drivers’ licence; and some concessionary travel passes like the Scottish National Entitlement Card. Expired ID can also be used – like an old passport – if the voter is still recognisable from the photo.

Postal ballots

Many voters did not receive their postal ballots on time prompting emergency measures across Scotland to try to facilitate as many people as possible to be able to have their say in the general election.

Those postal voters who have not yet returned their votes or do not have time to send them in the mail are reminded that they can hand in their ballot papers to any polling station within their constituency up until 10pm tomorrow.

For those who did not receive them at all or who have them but have run out of time to post them they can also drop off their postal packs in person or request a replacement pack between 10am and 4pm at the following locations:

• Dingwall Council Offices

• Fort William Service Point

• Highland Council Headquarters, Inverness

• Portree Service Point

• Wick Service Point

Other ways to vote

If some other reason may impede you voting then you can apply for an emergency proxy vote – when someone you trust will go along and cast your vote for you until 5pm Thursday 4 July under the following circumstances:

If you have a medical emergency

If you are away for work

If your photo ID is lost, stolen, destroyed or damaged after the deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate has passed. This form can also be used if your Anonymous Elector's Document is lost, stolen, destroyed or damaged (UK Parliament elections or recall petitions only).

Ballot papers

This is an example of a ballot paper for the Scottish not the UK parliament but it will look similar and the rules are the same - mark your preferred candidate with an X and that is it.
This is an example of a ballot paper for the Scottish not the UK parliament but it will look similar and the rules are the same - mark your preferred candidate with an X and that is it.

The ballot paper is where you will choose one candidate only. The one pictured above is for the Scottish Parliament constituency vote but it functions in the same way as the vote for the Westminster election.

Voters will need to choose just one candidate by placing an X next to their name. If you number your preferences or write anything else on the ballot paper it could lead to your vote being discounted.


Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross:

Lucy BEATTIE - Scottish National Party (SNP)

Steve CHISHOLM - Alba Party: Yes to Scottish Independence

Fiona FAWCETT - Scottish Conservative and Unionist

Eva KESTNER - Scottish Labour Party

Sandra SKINNER - Reform UK

Jamie STONE - Scottish Liberal Democrats

Anne THOMAS - Scottish Greens

Inverness, Skye, and West Ross-shire:

Drew HENDRY - Scottish National Party (SNP)

Dillan HILL - Reform UK

Angus MACDONALD - Scottish Liberal Democrats

Peter NEWMAN - Scottish Greens

Darren PAXTON - Socialist Equality Party

Michael PERERA - Scottish Labour Party

Ruraidh STEWART - Scottish Conservative and Unionist

The count

Counting for the election will begin at 10pm with party representatives and candidates overseeing how that is completed.

The most essential part of this process is the determination of spoiled ballots with a certain amount of discussion going on whether or not someone has intended to vote for one candidate or another.

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