RESIDENTS go to the polls today to vote in the local and European elections.

The booths opened at 7am throughout the UK for the European Parliament contest to return 73 Euro MPs.

Dorset residents have the chance to elect their local MEPs by selecting the party they wish to represent the region in Brussels for the next five years.

The county falls within the south west constituency, which has six MEPs, and covers from Cornwall to Gloucester and also includes Gibraltar.

A system of proportional representation is used in the European Parliament elections whereby electors vote for a party rather than an individual candidate.

Candidates are listed in order of preference by their parties and will be elected as such, depending on how many seats the party wins.

Currently the south west region is represented by three Conservative MEPs, Giles Chichester, Julie Girling and Ashley Fox, two UKIP MEPs, Trevor Colmanand William Dartmouth, and one Liberal Democrat MEP, Graham Watson.

The results of the election will be announced on Sunday evening.

Candidates standing in the European Parliamentary elections for the South West

An Independence from Europe: David Smith, Helen Webster, Mike Camp, Andrew Edwards, Phil Dunn, John Taverner.

British National Party: Adrian Romilly, Cliff Jones, Arnold Brindle, Wayne Peter Tomlinson, Andrew Webster, Giuseppe De Santis.

Conservative Party: Ashley Peter Fox, Julie McCulloch Girling, James Cracknell, Georgina Susan Butler, Sophie Swire, Melissa Maynard.

English Democrats: Alan England, Mike Blundell, Clive Lavelle, Barbara Wright, Steve Wright, Ray Carr.

Green Party: Molly Scott Cato, Emily Rachel McIvor, Ricky Knight, Audaye Khalid Elesedy, Judy Maciejowska, Mark Chivers.

Labour Party: Clare Miranda Moody, Glyn Ford, Ann Margaret Reeder, Hadleigh Vaughan Roberts, Jude Robinson, Junab Ali.

Liberal Democrats: Graham Robert Watson, Kay Barnard, Brian George Felton Mathew, Andrew Paul Wigley, Jay Oliver Risbridger, Lyana Patricia Armstrong-Emery.

UKIP: William Dartmouth, Julie Reid, Gawain Howard Wilkinson Towler, Tony McIntyre, Robert Lee Smith, Keith Montgomery Crawford.

People in Purbeck and West Dorset will have the chance to vote for councillors in the local elections.

See all the candidates standing in the local elections for Purbeck District Council by ward