Association of Mental Health Providers

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Voting Guide for People Living with a Mental Illness

This brief guide contains useful tips about how you can exercise your voting rights.


  1. Many adults with a mental illness can vote

This includes times when you are in a hospital on voting day. People who are under specific Mental Health Act sections, or in prison, are unable to vote. Find out more about who is able to vote by reading Rethink’s fact sheets on the Mental Health Act and scrolling to Mental Health Laws. 


  1. Where is my local polling station?

On your polling card, you will have the address of your local polling station. You can also find your local polling station by visiting and entering your postcode. 


  1. How can I vote in person?

All registered adults will have been sent a polling card with information on it about when you can vote and at which polling station. However, to vote you do not have to take your poll card with you. 

Polling stations are open from 7 am to 10 pm on the day of an election. 

At the polling station, you can give your name and address to the staff inside when you arrive.  

For the general election, you will need to show your photo ID to confirm your identity. 

You’ll be given a ballot paper containing a list of the parties you can vote for. 

Follow the instructions on the top of the ballot paper to vote. 


  1. What are the alternative ways to vote?

You can vote by proxy: this enables you to choose someone else to vote for you. This can be your friend or a member of your family. You must apply for a proxy vote. 

As the proxy vote deadline has passed, you may be able to apply for an emergency proxy vote by 5 pm on election day in England, Scotland, and Wales, if any of the following apply: 

  • you can’t vote in person because of a medical emergency or disability 
  • you can’t vote in person because of your employment 
  • the photo ID you were going to use to vote has been lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed 
  • you’ve not received a new or replacement photo ID which you have ordered 


  1. Anxiety and voting  

For some people going to vote at a polling station may feel anxiety-provoking or overwhelming. It can be helpful to go with a friend, carer, or supporter if they are over 18. This person can even enter the voting booth with you to help with your understanding of the ballot paper – if needed. You will need to fill in your ballot paper on your own in the booth to ensure your vote is yours. If you are unsure of anything when you go to vote, just ask the staff at the polling station – who will be happy to help.