Voting Safely at the Scottish Parliament Election

On Thursday 6 May 2021 residents in Highland and Western Isles will go to the polls to have their say on who represents them in the Scottish Parliament.

While the election is not until May, planning is already underway to help you stay safe while casting your vote.

There are a number of ways to have your say in the election in May - you can vote in a polling station, by post, or by appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf, which is known as a proxy vote.

Bill Gillies, Electoral Registration Officer for Highland and Western Isles, said:

“The Scottish Parliament makes decisions that affect every aspect of our daily lives so it is important to make your voice heard in this election and have a say on who represents you.

“We’re thinking about these elections now so that, however you choose to cast your vote in May, you can do so safely. Arrangements are being put in place by the Returning Officer to help you stay safe at the polling station; you can expect many of the measures you’ve become used to in shops and banks over recent months, such as hand sanitiser, floor markings and face masks. But you also have the option to apply to vote by post or by proxy.”

Andy O’Neill, Head of Electoral Commission, Scotland said:

“The choice on how to vote at next May’s elections is yours – you can have your say in person, by post or by proxy.

“If you’re thinking about voting by post, you can apply now. This will make sure your application is processed early, and your postal vote can be sent to you more quickly. It’s easy to apply and you can find out how by visiting the Electoral Commission website.

“You need to be registered to vote in order to have a say at the election – the easiest way is online (Opens in a new window or downloads a file). And remember, it doesn’t matter where you were born, if you are aged 16 and over and are resident in Scotland you are now eligible to register and vote in Scottish Parliament elections.”

Residents can visit the FAQ page on the website at to find out more about the elections on 6 May 2021. The page will be updated with new information as it becomes available. Any residents who have questions can also contact the electoral registration team on 0800 393 783 or by e-mail


For more information contact Mandy Thomson,

Notes to editors                                       

The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:

  • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
  • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
  • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiencyTo vote in a Scottish Parliament election you must be registered to vote in Scotland and aged 16 years or over on the day of the poll. You must also be:
  • For further information on elections in their area, how to register to vote, or how to apply to vote by post or by proxy, visit the Electoral Commission website. This page will continue to be updated ahead of the polls.
  • a British or Irish citizen
  • a Commonwealth citizen, who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK
  • a citizen of another European Union country, or
  • a qualifying foreign citizen, who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need such permission.

Full details on who can vote in elections in Scotland is available on the Electoral Commission website.

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK, Scottish and Welsh parliaments.