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General election: Key questions answered on how Kent will be affected by vote

As Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the UK is heading for a July election for the first time since 1945, many questions are on voters’ lips.

Reporter James Pallant takes a look at everything you need to know for the upcoming July 4 vote, including how to have your say and if schools will be affected.

The elections have been formally declared
The elections have been formally declared

Do I need photo ID?

Yes. You will need a government-issued photo ID to vote in the general election on July 4.

You can still use your ID even if it has expired, but the photo on your ID must look like you.

Examples of acceptable IDs include a UK driving licence, a UK passport and a biometric residence permit. A full list of the acceptable IDs can be found here.

You will need to show photo ID to vote at the general election
You will need to show photo ID to vote at the general election

Who is eligible to vote?

To vote, you need to be registered to vote and be 18 or over on polling day.

People eligible to vote include UK or Irish citizens, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen living in the UK.

How do I register to vote?

You can register to vote on the UK government website here.

If you are not sure if you’re able to, you should contact the elections team at your local district, borough or combined authority council.

Will schools used as polling stations be closed?

All state-funded schools can have their rooms used as polling stations and schools must comply with requests for use from the returning officer of an election. Your child’s school may well be closed on election day, so be sure to reach out to school administrators to find out ahead of time.

Where do I vote if I'm a student?

Students can register to vote using either their home or term-time addresses.

But if your home and university address are in two different local authority areas, you will need to choose which constituency you want to vote in.

Voting in more than one location is a crime.

If you're not sure if you're already registered to vote, you can check by getting in touch with your local authority.

Rishi Sunak has announced a general election will be held on July 4. Picture: PA
Rishi Sunak has announced a general election will be held on July 4. Picture: PA

What do I do if I'm on holiday?

If you will be abroad on polling day you can either apply to vote by post, or apply to have someone else vote on your behalf - this is called voting by proxy.

Government guidance says your proxy should be someone you trust. You’ll need to tell them which candidate you want to vote for. If two, weeks before the election, you know you will not be in the country but have not registered to vote by post, you should apply to vote by proxy.

How many seats are there in Kent?

There are 18 seats up for grabs in Kent, this includes the newly formed constituency of Weald of Kent.

Of current Kent MPs, only two MPs in the county represent the Labour Party, while the others are Conservative members, but not all Kent MPs are standing for re-election

Is my MP standing again?

Three Kent MPs have declared they are not standing for re-election: Gordon Henderson - MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, Tracey Crouch - MP for Chatham and Aylesford and Dover’s MP Natalie Elphicke.

MPs Gordon Henderson, Tracey Crouch and Natalie Elphicke will not stand at the upcoming election
MPs Gordon Henderson, Tracey Crouch and Natalie Elphicke will not stand at the upcoming election

Has my constituency changed?

Since the last election, the Boundary Commission for England reshaped Kent’s parliamentary constituency map, re-jigging three existing areas and creating one new contingency entirely.

The Maidstone constituency now covers a much smaller area than before. It now includes West Malling and Kings Hill from the previous Tonbridge and Malling seat, which will now be known simply as Tonbridge.

The Ashford constituency has also lost geographical area overall, losing villages to the west, but gaining ground in the old Folkestone and Hythe constituency.

In Thanet, the constituency of North Thanet will lose Margate but extend southwards to become Herne Bay and Sandwich.

To the east of the district, Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate - will combine to become a constituency called East Thanet.

Weald of Kent is a large new constituency, formed from parts of the previous constituency, Maidstone and the Weald, Faversham and Mid Kent, Ashford, and Folkestone and Hythe.

Who is leading the polls currently?

Labour has been leading in the polls since the start of 2022, and currently has a 21% lead over the Conservatives.

Polling indicates 44% of the public would vote Labour and 23% for Conservatives. The Reform party is currently polling at 11%, the Liberal Democrats at 10% and Greens with 7% support.

Previously, polls predicted the Conservatives would hold on to just six seats in the county. While earlier in the month, Electoral Calculus suggested things could be even worse and the Tories would lose 13 of their 18 seats.

When will we know who's won?

Historically, general election results have been confirmed by the morning after polling day. So we should know who has been successful in each parliamentary constituency, and which party has won overall, by July 5.

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