Postal and Proxy voting
Anybody can apply to vote by post as long as their details have been entered onto the Electoral Register. You do not need to give any reason for voting this way and can apply to vote by post for all future elections, a fixed period, or for one election if you were unable to vote in person on that day.
If however you were going to be away on holiday and were thinking about a postal vote, please contact Electoral Services prior to applying to find out the approximate posting dates of the ballot papers, as we have to follow strict dates for posting, and cannot always guarantee to deliver these to you if you are on holiday a few days prior to the election.
As part of the Electoral Administrators Bill passed in 2006 anybody requiring a postal vote has to provide their date of birth and a specimen signature. This information is securely held and only used to check the details against the Voting Statement returned with your ballot paper. This is to prevent fraudulent postal votes being returned, your vote remains secret.
Once you have received your postal vote; complete the ballot paper and follow the instructions provided to send it back to the Civic Offices. If however you decide you do not wish to use the postal system, you can complete the ballot paper, place it in the return envelope and deliver it to a polling station within your electoral area, or to the Civic Offices before 10pm on the date of the election.
Please note that if you choose to vote by post then you will not be able to vote in person at a polling station.
Proxy voting means allowing someone else to vote for you, and this facility is available for various reasons, for example travelling or living away from home, sickness, away on holiday, or if you are a student.
However, you may find that you are able to vote on election day, in this case you can still go to the polling station, but the person you have appointed as your proxy will not then be able to vote on your behalf.
Postal proxy voting
If the person you have appointed to act as your proxy is unable to get to the polling station or lives outside of the area, you can apply for them to become a postal proxy and they will have the ballot paper sent to them.
To apply for an application form to vote by postal proxy, if you have any queries regarding the above, or would like more advice, please contact Electoral Services.
Once you have registered as an overseas elector, you may wish to arrange how you will vote. Although you are registered as overseas and not resident in the UK, you won't automatically receive a postal vote. If you can't vote at your UK polling station, you will need to apply to vote by post or appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf. If you do not apply to vote by post or proxy, you will only be entitled to vote at your UK polling station.
If you choose to vote by post, we cannot guarantee the reliability of overseas postal services. Please be aware postal ballot papers can only be sent from 19 working days to eight working days prior to an election. If you do not think this would be enough time to receive, complete and return your postal vote you may wish to consider voting by proxy.
If you would like to vote by proxy, you will need to complete an application form to nominate someone to vote on your behalf. They will then be eligible to go to your assigned polling station (based on your qualifying address) and be issued a ballot paper to cast your vote on election day. If the person you have appointed to act as your proxy is unable to get to the polling station or lives outside of the area, they can apply to become a postal proxy and they will have a ballot paper sent to them. You must complete a proxy application form before your nominated proxy can request to vote by postal proxy. To apply for an application form to vote by postal proxy, please contact Electoral Services.
Advice in anticipation of a general election
In the event of a general election being called at short notice, it is most likely that Returning Officers will be working on the shortest possible timetable; 25 working days. The printing of postal ballot papers is a legally complex and strictly governed process. The deadline for candidates to be nominated is 19 days before polling day. Therefore no postal ballot papers can even be printed until after this point. Postal ballot papers are printed by specialist election printers and a 25 day timetable may mean that the time period for the despatch of postal ballot papers will be incredibly tight. Due to the shortness of time, this may mean that postal ballot papers can only be despatched in one batch rather than two. It is also important to consider that once the postal ballot paper leaves the UK, it is in the hands of overseas postal services, the reliability of which we have no control.
To ensure your application form is received before the deadline for applications to vote by post during an election period, you may wish to use a 1st class stamp or scan and email the completed application to email@example.com. It is important that signature specimens are clear. Therefore, if the application is completed and emailed, the image provided must be clear or it may be rejected and returned.
Details provided on your postal or postal proxy voting form will be passed to a 3rd party for production of your postal vote pack.