What is a postal vote?
If you vote by post your ballot paper will be posted to you before polling day so you can cast your vote and post (or hand deliver) the ballot paper back to the Area Office before the deadline (10pm on polling day). If you choose to vote by post you cannot vote at a polling station.
Postal votes can only be issued to addresses within the UK and they must be returned to the Area Office that issued them, they cannot be accepted at polling stations.
What is a proxy?
A proxy is someone you appoint to vote on your behalf. A proxy must be:
at least 18 years of age on polling day
a British, Irish, European Union or Commonwealth citizen (note: European Union citizens cannot act as proxies at UK Parliamentary elections as they are not entitled to vote at this type of election themselves)
not subject to any legal incapacity to vote (e.g. convicted prisoners cannot vote)
A proxy may only vote on behalf of two electors to whom they are not related. However, there is no restriction on the number of electors for whom a proxy may vote if they are related (i.e. spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild).
The proxy does not have to be listed on the electoral register, but they will be asked by the polling staff to show one of the specified forms of identification (belonging to the proxy, not the elector) before they are given a ballot paper.
If you change your mind and decide to vote in person instead, you can do so as long as you go to the polling station before your proxy.
Do I have to provide a reason for wanting to vote by post or proxy?
Yes, you will be required to provide a reason why you cannot reasonably be expected to go to the polling station in person. In most cases the application will also need to be attested (where someone else certifies that the information on the form is correct).
How do I apply to vote by post or proxy?
Download the application form on the Voting by post or proxy page.
Fill in the application and, if necessary, have the form attested (where another person confirms that the information provided is correct).
Return the application form to your Area Office.
What are the different types of postal/proxy vote application?
You can apply to vote by post or proxy on a temporary or permanent basis. If you want to apply for a particular election you must return your application by 5.00pm on the fourteenth working day before the election.
Permanent postal/proxy vote
To be eligible for a permanent postal/proxy vote you must demonstrate that you cannot reasonably be expected to go to your polling station or vote unaided due to:
Employment (or that of your spouse/civil partner)
Education (or that of your spouse/civil partner)
The Area Office will write to you every few years to ensure that the circumstances under which the postal/proxy vote was granted still apply. If you do not respond or your circumstances have changed to mean you can now vote in person, the postal/proxy vote will be cancelled.
If you move address you will lose your permanent postal/proxy vote and will have to apply for a new one.
Temporary postal/proxy vote
A temporary postal/proxy vote only applies to one election (or, if there are multiple elections on one day, all the elections on that day). The application can only be made in the period before the election and the deadline will be 5.00pm on the fourteenth working day before the election.
To be eligible for a temporary postal/proxy vote you must demonstrate that you cannot reasonably be expected to go to your polling station on polling day for a short term reason. This may be due to:
Short term illness
Attendance at an important event
What information do I need to provide on the application form?
You must provide the following information on your application for a postal or proxy vote:
Date of birth
National Insurance Number
These details will be checked against the information provided on your most recent registration form in order to verify your identity. If the details do not match the application will be rejected.
Reason for the application
You must provide a reason why you cannot reasonably be expected to vote in person at your polling place on polling day. You must provide exact dates and locations (if applicable) or the application may be rejected on the grounds that not enough detail about the reason has been provided.
If you will not be at home between the date postal votes are issued and polling day, you should appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf.
Most applications need to be attested (where another person confirms that the information provided on the application form is correct). The exception to this is certain applications for a permanent postal/proxy vote on the grounds of disability.
If the form is not properly attested the application will be rejected.
Postal/proxy vote details
If applying for a postal vote you must provide the address it is to be sent to (if different from the address you are registered at). If it is to be sent to a different address you must provide a reason for this. The address must be within the UK – postal votes cannot be sent abroad.
If applying for a proxy vote you must provide the name and address of the proxy and their relationship to you (if any). A person can only be the proxy for close relatives and up to two other people at the same election, so this part of the form is included to ensure this condition is met.
Who can attest my application form?
Temporary postal/proxy application
Indefinite postal/proxy application
Can I apply for a postal/proxy vote at an Area Office?
You can obtain the form from the Area Office but you will need to get it attested and then return with your application. We would advise you to download the form from the Voting by post or proxy page and get it fully completed before taking it to an Area Office, or else bring the person who is going to attest the application with you to the office.
Can I apply online to vote by post or proxy? Can I send my form in by email/fax?
No the law requires us to obtain an original signature on the application form so unfortunately we cannot accept scanned or online applications.
If I move address will I lose my postal/proxy vote?
Yes, if you change address you will need to make a new application for a postal/proxy vote.
When are postal votes issued?
Postal votes are issued approximately 10 days before an election.
How do I vote as a proxy?
Go to the elector's polling station with one of the forms of acceptable identification (in your name, not the elector's name). Tell the staff you are voting as a proxy and they will tell you what to do.
How do I complete and return my postal ballot paper?
You will receive a ballot paper with a Declaration of Identity and two envelopes - A and B.
Mark your vote on the ballot paper (see How to mark your ballot paper) and, in front of a witness, fill in your date of birth, national insurance number and signature on the Declaration of Identity. The witness must be aged 18 or over and satisfied to the best of their knowledge and belief as to your identity. Apart from that there is no restriction on who can be a witness.
Put the ballot paper into ballot paper envelope ‘A’ and seal it to ensure confidentiality. Insert ballot paper envelope 'A' into return envelope ‘B’ with the Declaration of Identity.
Post or hand deliver envelope 'B' back to the Area office that issued it by 10pm on polling day.
I made a mistake on my postal ballot paper - can I get another one?
Yes, if you return your postal vote documents to the Area Office by 5pm on the day before polling day you can get a replacement.
I've lost my postal ballot paper, can I get a replacement?
We cannot issue replacement postal votes if they have been lost.
Who can complete the Witness section on the Declaration of Identity that accompanies the postal vote?
The witness must be aged 18 or over and satisfied to the best of their knowledge and belief as to the identity of the voter. Apart from that there is no restriction on who can be a witness.
Can I hand deliver my postal vote to the Area Office?
Yes, you can deliver it by hand it to the Area Office that issued it by 10pm on polling day. If you are unable to go to the office yourself someone else can deliver it on your behalf - you should make sure it is someone you trust so it is not tampered with.
Can I hand deliver my postal vote to a polling station?
No, it can only be accepted by the Area Office that issued it.
I've received my postal vote but changed my mind - can I vote in person at a polling station instead?
No, once the postal vote has been issued you cannot cancel it and you cannot vote at a polling station.
My application for a proxy vote has been approved but I'm now able to the polling station - can I vote instead of my proxy?
Yes, as long as you arrive at the polling station before your proxy you can vote in person instead.
I'm working for an Area Office/as a Constable on polling day and need a Certificate of Employment
Please contact the relevant Area Office and they will issue a Certificate of Employment.