There are six types of elections in the United Kingdom: United Kingdom general elections, elections to devolved parliaments and assemblies, elections to the European Parliament, local elections, mayoral elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections.Elections are held on Election Day, which is conventionally a Thursday.Since the passing of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 for general elections, all six types of elections are held after fixed periods, though early elections to parliament and the devolved assemblies and parliaments can occur in certain situations.
Elections are administered locally; in each lower-tier local authority, the actual polling procedure is run by the Acting Returning Officer or Returning Officer and the compiling and maintenance of the electoral roll by the Electoral Registration Officer (except in Northern Ireland, where the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland assumes both responsibilities).
The Electoral Commission only sets standards for and issues guidelines to Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers, but is responsible for nationwide electoral administration (such as the registration of political parties and directing the administration of national referendums). In Scotland, anyone who will be aged 16 or over on polling day can register to vote as the age for voting in Scottish local elections and elections to the Scottish Parliament is 16.
However, voters in Scotland under 18 are not entitled to vote in European Elections or UK General Elections.
A person who has two homes (such as a university student who has a term-time address and lives at home during holidays) may be able to register to vote at both addresses as long as they are not in the same electoral area (though an elector can only vote once in any single election or referendum).
In addition, to qualify to appear on the Electoral Register, applicants who are Commonwealth citizens must either possess leave to enter or remain in the UK or not require such leave on the date of their application In Northern Ireland, a further criterion has to be fulfilled to qualify for registration: it is only possible to apply to be listed on the Electoral Register if a person has been resident in Northern Ireland for at least three months prior to the date of application.
Remand prisoners, voluntary patients in mental hospitals and people without a fixed place of residence can register to vote by making a declaration of local connection.
Members of HM Forces and their immediate family members have the option of registering as a service voter, by making a service declaration based on the last UK address.
British citizens (but not other categories of British nationals) residing outside the United Kingdom can register as an overseas voter provided that they were on the Electoral Register in the UK within the previous 15 years.
The 15 years period begins when they no longer appeared in the electoral register, not the date they moved abroad.