Changes to Postal and Proxy Voting
Absent voting allows you to vote in an election if you are unable to vote in person at the polling station on the day. There are two types of absent voting:
Postal voting - once a completed application has been submitted, a postal pack, which will include your ballot paper will be sent to you by post. Depending on when you applied and due to the statutory election timetable, postal votes are sent around two to three weeks before polling day . You will be required to complete your postal pack using the guidance in the pack and return it in time to be included in the counting of votes.
Proxy voting – you can appoint someone you to trust to vote on your behalf. Once appointed they will vote at the polling station you would normally vote at.
The following provisions came into force on 31 October 2023 and apply for all election types in England.
- You will have the option to apply for a postal vote and some types of proxy vote online, but you must still provide a wet ink signature as we cannot accept typed electronic signatures.
- You will need to provide your national insurance number when applying for an absent vote, whether this is an online application or paper application. All applications will be subject to a check against information held by the Department for Work and Pensions, similar to the process for applications to register to vote.
- The maximum period for a permanent postal vote will be three years. Electors will be contacted at their renewal time to submit a new application. You will only be able to act as a proxy for up to two people living in the UK (or a maximum of four people, with two people living in the UK and two people registered as living overseas).
- As part of the proxy vote changes, we must write to all electors with a permanent proxy vote, requesting you submit a new application. If you do not submit a new application by 31 January 2024, we must cancel you proxy vote.
Provisions relating to postal vote handling and secrecy will be in effect for polls taking place from May 2024:
- Political parties and campaigners will be banned from handling postal vote packs, except where the postal vote is their own, that of a close family member or someone that they provide regular care for.
- There will be a limit on the number of postal vote packs that a person can hand in at a polling station and the council offices – your own plus five for other electors - and the individual will be required to complete a form when handing in postal votes.
- Secrecy requirements will be extended to postal and proxy votes.